Hugh Farrelly looks at the areas Munster will zone in on against Glasgow tonight in preparation for their crucial clash with Toulon.
LOCK AND LOAD
If Munster are to secure the victory they crave in Toulon, they will need set-piece security and Glasgow provide a good examination. Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall and Moray Low constitute a strong front-row and, though Munster are without Tony Buckley and Wian du Preez tonight, a strong showing in the scrum will instill confidence after their woes against the Ospreys last month. Similarly, Alastair Kellock and Richie Gray are tall, athletic line-out operators and Donncha O'Callaghan and Mick O'Driscoll will receive a stern test of their aerial abilities. Primary possession is always central to success and if Munster hit the mark tonight it will be a significant step towards Toulon.
The code word 'Tora' used for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour centred on the element of surprise, a quality to Munster's attacking play that could prove critical in Toulon. Munster's capacity for grinding out tries is well established but an extra edge to their attacks is required to prosper in bigger games. The final try against Ulster last weekend showed what they are capable of and Keith Earls and Lifeimi Mafi (pictured below) have the ability to unhinge defences with stepping and off-loads, while Munster also possess a potent back three in Paul Warwick, Doug Howlett and Johne Murphy that should be brought onto the ball as much as possible.
thou shall not pass
If attack will be crucial in the Stade Felix Mayol, then defence is even more important. Toulon, in front of their own supporters, will look to hit Munster hard and early and if the visitors can smother their initial momentum, confidence will infuse the team. Discipline comes into the equation and Munster have the lowest points conceded tally in the Magners League and have conceded less than Toulon in Pool 3 of the Heineken Cup. A try shut-out tonight would be a welcome boost.