Wednesday 21 November 2018

Van Graan insists Munster discipline is not an issue ahead of Warriors re-match

Tadhg Beirne is marked absent as he prepares for a potential start against Italy in Chicago. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Tadhg Beirne is marked absent as he prepares for a potential start against Italy in Chicago. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Another Irish province seek some semblance of vengeance this weekend; in Munster's case, the memories are even rawer than those of Leinster.

It was only last month that Dave Rennie's men shot them down in a clinical first-half display in Scotland, maintaining the recent trend of home field advantage in this fixture.

Munster's initial away form probably didn't make the result much of a surprise at the time; their ongoing positive home form also means that a handsome win in the return clash should also be expected, as it should given the relative strength of the sides.

The Scots travel without a clutch of their national players, while Johann van Graan has been afforded the privilege of including nine of his 11.

Only Tadhg Beirne, who hasn't stopped since his second-half introduction in Glasgow, and the ubiquitous Joey Carbery, who seems to have played every minute of the campaign, are marked absent as they prepare for potential starts against Italy in Chicago next week.

There are no excuses, then, for the 25-10 loss not to be reversed. Indeed, Munster should be aiming to snaffle all five points, which would leave them in the credit on the head-to-head.

With Glasgow already 10 points ahead of them in the Conference A table, Munster will be mindful of closing the gap as neither side will be particularly eager to meet Leinster before the PRO14 final.

Munster will presumably harbour the desire for a performance to match the result; even their win against Gloucester last weekend was marred by slipshod efforts in attack and defence as well as disciplinary issues.

However, van Graan has strongly defended his side's record despite a soaring rate of 27 penalty concession in two games, far above the average ambition of most professional sides.

"To be fair, I thought against Exeter, the complexity of the game was very different," says the South African.

"It was a battle between two sides and if you look at the penalties it was maul and scrum penalties whereas in the last 14 minutes against Gloucester I thought there was soft penalties, a few offsides, two unnecessary yellow cards.

"So I wouldn't say it's two weeks in a row, I don't think there's a trend there. I think credit to the players, they put up their hands.

"We've said that from day one, we're a group and it wasn't good enough in the last 14 minutes and it's something we've got to be aware of.

"Glasgow is always a physical affair, and I'd just take you back to a few incidents in a previous game in Glasgow."

This fixture certainly does have history, with the Scots recently supplanting Ospreys as the Irish side's most bitter non-Irish rivals.

However, the fact that only one side are sending out a winnable outfit this evening should curb the often excessive enthusiasm that sends sparks flying when these clubs meet.

A Munster win would set them up nicely for the November period when their internationals are marked absent, ensuring they remain attached to Glasgow in the table, while the Castres back-to-backs in Europe loom large.

"We are very happy with the strides that we've made," adds the coach. "Our best performance of the season was against Exeter.

"And over the weekend we had some excellent spells against Gloucester, scored five tries and then on 36-10 we should have done better in the last 15 minutes of the game.

"So the 25 that were involved more or less over the last four weeks, we're really happy with where we went.

"Now it's time for the depth of the group to step up in the next four games: this one, the Cheetahs, Zebre and then Edinburgh. Then it's straight back into Europe and then Ulster and Leinster over the Christmas period."

Verdict: Munster

Munster - M Haley; A Conway, S Arnold, R Scannell, K Earls; JJ Hanrahan, A Mathewson; J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, B Holland; P O'Mahony (C), C Cloete, CJ Stander. Reps: K O'Byrne, D Kilcoyne, S Archer, F Wycherley, A Botha, N Cronin, I Keatley, D Sweetnam.

Glasgow Warri ors - R Jackson; DTH van der Merwe, N Grigg, S Johnson, R Hughes; P Horne, G Horne; O Kebble, G Stewart, D Rae, R Harley, S Cummings, A Ashe, C Gibbins, M Fagerson. Reps: K Bryce, J Bhatti, P du Plessis, G Peterson, C Fusaro, N Frisby, B Thomson, N Matawalu.

Ref - Dan Jones (WRU).

Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Live, eir Sport 1, 5.15,

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