Monday 20 August 2018

Vital points up for grabs in rankings

Munster coach Johann van Graan. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster coach Johann van Graan. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Defeat last weekend in Paris has seen Munster slide down the rankings in the Champions Cup, despite being in control of Pool 4.

As it stands, Munster have accumulated the least number of points of the five pool leaders and are ranked fifth, although the law of averages suggests that ranking will climb after the final round.

Along with Clermont, Munster are the only one of the five leaders to have a home game this weekend, although neither team faces an easy task with their respective visitors, Ospreys and Castres, both in the race for a quarter-final spot.

Leinster are top seeds and almost guaranteed to maintain that standing, while Clermont, Toulon and Ulster are currently above Munster in the seedings.

Should there be no change in the seedings, Munster would face Ulster at Kingspan Stadium in the quarter-finals, and if a victory is secured there they would then have a semi-final to look forward to in Ireland - against Leinster or the eighth-ranked team.

But despite all the complicated standings and permutations, Munster's challenge is very simple this Sunday: claim at least a draw to reach the quarter-final for the second year in a row.

After last weekend's defeat in Paris Munster coach Johann van Graan lamented the 'championship minutes' that didn't go their way at the death, which saw Racing 92 get across the line. The South African wants his side to win those key battles on Sunday.

"The big thing is like all European games over the weekend, there will be big moments and we need to win those big moments," said Van Graan.

"I thought we as team could have handled those last few moments better. We will be in that position somewhere in the future time this year and we want to build as a squad in those decisions that we make."

Irish Independent

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