Thursday 5 December 2019

McGahan braced as Warriors set sights on semi-finals spot

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

MUNSTER face a testing week in their bid to secure a top-four spot in the Magners League, with Glasgow Warriors welcoming back eight internationals for the trip to Thomond Park tonight.

The province occupy fourth place in the table -- tied with Edinburgh and the Warriors on 34 points -- and with league leaders Leinster visiting Limerick this day week, Tony McGahan's side know that dropped points at this stage could prove costly.

With no European competition to distract them, Glasgow coach Sean Lineen has described his side's last five matches as a "Grand Finals" as they seek to secure a semi-final berth.

"Munster are level with us on points and remain the team to beat in the Magners League in terms of consistency," he said. "It's great to have our Scotland players back and the squad is full of enthusiasm. Every game is now a Grand Final."

"Munster's forwards are very unforgiving and there is a fantastic atmosphere at Thomond Park. The players need to look forward to the whole occasion and enjoy it."

Ronan O'Gara will captain Munster with Peter Stringer filling the No 9 shirt, while Tony Buckley and Donncha O'Callaghan also start after returning from international duty. Alan Quinlan returns at blindside flanker and his physical presence will be required to curb the influence of Glasgow back-row trio Kelly Brown, John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie.

Munster have the firepower in the backs to hurt the Scots and if the centre partnership of Jean de Villiers and Lifeimi Mafi can get on top in their duel with Graeme Morrison and Max Evans, Munster have the platform to take a massive step towards securing a top-four spot.

But with the race set to go down to the wire, and with one less Heineken Cup spot available to Welsh sides, McGahan will want to secure their path to the semis before the final-day trip to Cardiff.

Meanwhile, Barry Murphy will take a huge step in his return from his latest injury when he lines out for UL Bohemians in the AIL this weekend. Murphy last lined out for the province in September when he limped off against the Newport-Gwent Dragons after just nine minutes.

Verdict: Munster

Munster -- P Warwick; D Hurley, L Mafi, J de Villiers, I Dowling; R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, D Fogarty, T Buckley; D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll; A Quinlan, N Ronan, J Coughlan. Reps: D Varley, D Ryan, B Holland, N Williams, D Williams, T Gleeson, D Howlett.

Glasgow -- B Stortoni; P Murchie, M Evans, G Morrison, DTH van der Merwe; D Parks, C Cusiter; J Welsh, D Hall, M Low; R Gray, D Turner; K Brown, J Barclay, J Beattie. Reps: F Thomson, K Tkachuk, T Barker, R Vernon, M McMillan, C Gregorm H O'Hare.

Ref -- J Jones (Wales).

Munster v Glasgow,

Live, Setanta Ireland, 8.0

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