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All Uphill for Munster Now
3 March 2004, 12:28 pm
Following on from the defeat last Friday night in Musgrave Park by Neath-Swansea Ospreys, only the most optimistic would give Munster a chance of retaining their Celtic League title.
Following on from the defeat last Friday night in Musgrave Park by Neath-Swansea Ospreys, only the most optimistic would give Munster a chance of retaining their Celtic League title.

They sit in fifth place in the table eight points behind the leaders Gwent Dragons and seven behind second placed Ulster who they play on Friday evening. After the Ravenhill encounter they play The Dragons in Thomond Park and then travel to Glasgow where they ve already been beaten before making a trip to The Brewery Field for a game with Celtic Warriors who currently share joint second place with Ulster.

The good news for coach Alan Gaffney is by the time they play Warriors it will serve as a warm-up game for the Heineken Cup quarter-final with Stade Francais - they will have their internationals back. The bad news is that by then, their Celtic League challenge could well be over. If it isn t already.

Ulster haven t lost at home this season and have put most sides to the sword pretty emphatically. But that aside, there was nothing about Munster s performance on Friday to suggest that they had the slightest chance of winning up north.

Not alone would a win have left them breathing down Ulster s neck, it would also have provided a welcome confidence boost ahead of what is always a formidable task, last time the sides met in Ravenhill, Ulster won 26-17. There is probably no scalp they prize more.

What was particularly galling about the defeat on Friday was that it happened after Munster had soaked up the pressure and taken control. At 15-6 the bonus point was on. Then a missed tackle, a dreadful inside pass that had intercept screaming long before it was thrown and staring down the barrel of a gun. But the gun-barrel was not particularly long.

Ospreys took the lead in the 53rd minute which left Munster with oodles of time to set the record straight. They failed to do so and that's what disappoints. Instead they ended up scrabbling for a share of the spoils. It was an undignified end to a disappointing game.

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Team
Pld
W
D
L
Pts
1Leinster Rugby20151474
2Ulster Rugby20140665
3Glasgow Warriors19150464
4Munster Rugby19140563
5Ospreys19111756
6Scarlets1991945
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