24 Apr 14
The last week has seen Munster fans 'face-off' literally in a quest to win a trip to Marseille for Munster's Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon.
Ian Costello's Munster side are in pole position after opening rounds win over Plymouth Albion, Aberavon and Rotherham Titans. The win over the Titans came in Clifton Lane and the expectation was that the return fixture at Musgrave Park would copperfasten qualification.
However the Titans really put it up to Munster and it needed a late JJ Hanrahan penalty to eek out a share of the spoils. Looking back on the campaign that result still rankles with Costello.
"Yeh, y'know there was the chance that game was going to get away from us but to finish with two points was important, it keeps us in control of the group. We're still four points clear with two games to go so at least it means it's in our own hands." he said.
"There are standards we require of ourselves We didn't give a fair account of ourselves that night. Didn't give a true reflection of where we are as a team. It was a very disappointed dressing room afterwards, felt almost as if we'd lost.
"Maybe when the dust settles after Christmas and we're back into the next stages of the group we'll be happy to be four points clear but that really wasn't good enough."
He dismisses any hint of complacency going into that game. "We spoke about in the lead up. The result over there wasn't a true reflection of their worth. When we played them over there, we hit a purple patch when things went really well for us. We scored a try that ended up with their guy in the bin and then we scored 14 points while he was in the bin.
"So we knew they were a good side. It was just that we were clinical in what we did over there. They were a physical side who we allowed dominate us. We let them play to their strengths We allowed them dominance in around the tackle area. They were able to maul very effectively They choked the life out of the game and we weren't able to rise above that. That said though, I would be happy with our work rate in the second half and the way we fought for the points."
But with two games to go, Munster will be a short order to contest the knock out stages. "We're away to Aberavon next and then home to Plymouth. So as I said it's in our control. After the back to back games we're seven points and they're two. So that outcome could be pivotal in getting us out of the group. But we could have had the job almost finished if we won last time. We won't be together for a few weeks, but in January we'll dust ourselves down and set about getting the job done."
British & Irish Cup Round 5: January 12th Munster v Aberavon Port Talbot. (2.30pm)
British & Irish Cup Round 6: January 18th Munster v Plymouth Albion Waterford Regional Sports Centre. (7pm)