MUNSTER CAN ALMOST taste it now, a return to the knock-out stages of the Champions Cup after the hurt of pool-stage exits in the past two seasons.
A bonus-point win away to Racing 92 last weekend moved the southern province to the top of Pool 1 with two rounds remaining, with Gregor Townsend’s Glasgow three match points behind.
Munster are in great spirits after a big win in Paris. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
As such, Saturday’s clash in Scotstoun [KO 5.30pm, Sky Sports 2] should be of thrilling proportions.
A Munster win would see them secure them a Champions Cup quarter-final, even before a weak Racing team come to Thomond Park in the final round of pool games.
Glasgow are fighting to keep their hopes of topping the group alive.
“It’s a massive one,” said Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus yesterday at their training base in UL. “Obviously, last week put us in a position to try and get it this weekend. Gregor and his team would see it the same way.”
Making this match-up even more intriguing is the fact that Munster crushed Glasgow at Thomond Park in their first Pool 1 meeting back in October, as they brought a truly incredible passion and accuracy just a day after burying Anthony Foley.
Erasmus’ men then pulled off a last-gasp 16-15 win at Scotstoun in December in the Guinness Pro12, with Ian Keatley’s drop goal getting them over the line.
While the Warriors were classy off the pitch on that difficult visit to Limerick back in October, they will be hugely motivated by the chance to redeem themselves this weekend after the two recent defeats to Munster.
“It will be more a game that will be decided by tactics and individual decision-making,” said Erasmus. “Both teams will have intensity, both teams will be highly motivated. Both teams will see it as a must-win game, both teams will be full strength.
Munster got the football out at training yesterday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
“The week of Axel’s death was just an emotional week which you can’t really understand why we pitched up or why we played the way we did. You can’t really compare that to a normal week.”
Tommy O’Donnell is the chief injury concern for Munster this week, following an ankle injury against Racing, while Erasmus said yesterday that there are one or two other players carrying knocks.
The prospect of playing Glasgow on their synthetic pitch at Scotstoun will be a talking point this week, with Townsend’s side thriving on the firm surface and tearing many teams apart with their high-paced attacking approach.
Looking at his own team’s approach, Erasmus must be happy with the manner in which Munster are going about defending at present.
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