Monday 22 January 2018

Win or bust for Penney

Pro12 play-offs to define reign of departing Reds supremo

Rob Penney
Rob Penney

John Fallon

A JOURNEY which began in the sunshine in La Rochelle almost two years ago will end tonight in Glasgow unless Munster can buck the trend and become the first side to win an away semi-final in the Pro12.

Rob Penney took charge of Munster for the first time on a scorching day on the west coast of France for a pre-season game against La Rochelle in August, 2012 and his reign will draw to a close this evening at Scotstoun unless the Reds can produce something special.

But skipper Damien Varley believes they can deliver that display and set up a third all-Irish final in four years as Munster go in search of a crown they last won in 2011 when they defeated Leinster in the final.

"You are judged on trophies and victories. We have come up short in the past two years.

"I think it is extremely important that we kick on, that we put in a good performance and that we take a win and ultimately win something this season.

"It's our only goal and target this season, getting silverware after two years of hard work and, more importantly, huge progression among the squad," said the hooker.

Just six teams have reached the semi-finals in the five years of the play-offs and none of the eight semi-finals to date have been won by the away side.

Leinster are the only side to reach all five semi-finals and are at home again this year, having been victorious in each one so far.

Munster and Glasgow are in their fourth semi-final, the Scots have lost all three they've played so far, while the Reds won their home semi-final against Ospreys in 2011, but lost away to Leinster a year earlier and to Ospreys in 2012.

This is Ulster's third semi-final, Ospreys have also been in three and Scarlets are the only other side to make it to the play-offs, losing away to Ulster last year.

Connacht, Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons, Edinburgh, Zebre and Treviso have never made it to the play-offs.

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