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Munster v Ospreys Match Preview
2 February 2004, 10:18 pm
This weekend Munster, on paper, have the easiest task of their Welsh campaign when they take on The Ospreys in Musgrave Park. An Occassion that will be made special by the debut of Christian Cullen.
Once Munster had secured their 24-13 over Leinster Lions in Musgrave Park two weeks ago it would be fair to say that their thoughts switched immediately to the game against the famous Llanelli Scarlets.

Once Munster coach Alan Gaffney had congratulated his side on an improved second half performance that had secured their bonus point victory he was quick to remind his side that no matter how they had viewed that game against Leinster, what lay ahead in a week's time would be far far tougher.

And so it proved. Last Friday, Munster arrived in Stradey Park one place behind and one point in arrears of the Scarlets, and one point in front and one place ahead of the Celtic Warriors. Now if that isn't the definition of being caught between a rock and a hard place then what is.

In this inaugural year of regional sides in Wales, Celtic Warriors and Llanelli have set a cracking pace along with Mike Ruddock's Gwent Dragons and this trio occupied three of the top five places in the Celtic League going into last weekend's games.

After proceedings, there was no change in the personnel, but the order had changed. Llanelli s win over Munster pushed Gareth Jenkins side to second from third position and Munster swopped placed with Mike Ruddock s Dragons. Now three of the top four places are occupied by Welsh sides.

This weekend Munster, on paper, have the easiest task of their Welsh campaign when they take on The Ospreys in Musgrave Park. It might be all the memorable an occasion if Christian Cullen, as expected, turns out in the Munster colours but what will occupy Alan Gaffney and Brian Hickey s mind will be the compilation of a game-plan that will secure their side five points.

Last weekend they left Stradey Park with nothing to show for what was a decent performance. To date they have collected seven bonus points more than any other side has managed - and come May those, and the ones that are on offer could make all the difference between them retaining or ceding the Celtic League trophy.

Just as importantly, Munster start into a crucial phase of the competition. In the next two weekend they face two of the sides - Ulster (away) and The Dragons (home) directly above them and a week before they take on Stade Francais in the Heineken Cup quarter final they play Celtic Warriors at The Brewery Field. So before they resume European action they will have a fair idea whether there s more than one trophy in the offing.

Friday s game could see Christian Cullen make his long awaited debut. It might also see Frank Sheahan and Marcus Horan play in red. It will give supporters another chance to see what might be termed Munster or Alan Gaffney s new backline in operation. New, that is, insofar as the sort of rugby they ve been producing in recent times is fast and flowing and effective.

They scored three tries against Llanelli Scarlets last Friday, three tries that were as good as you ll see scored anywhere and they wouldn t have been flattered if they d scored a few more. They ran in four against Leinster and again three of those were classy. So on Friday with a crowd to roar them on Munster can maintain their push for the title and also leave themselves in good heart for the trip to Ravenhill a week on Friday.

So lets get out there and support them.

Munster v Neath Swansea Ospreys Celtic League Venue: Musgrave Park, Cork. Date: Friday, February 27th. Kick Off: 19:30 (GMT) TV Coverage: TG4

Ticket Information:


Tickets available in Musgrave Park between 10am. to 3pm. daily. For Credit Card bookings call +353 021 4323563.

Tickets also available in the following outlets:

- Dennehys Cross Bar, Dennehys Cross. - Cummins Sports, Douglas Court Shopping Centre. - Mahers Sports, Oliver Plunkett St. - UCC Travel in UCC


Tickets available in Thomond Park between 10am. to 3pm. daily. For Credit Card bookings call +353 061 451392.

Tickets also available in the following outlets:

- Munster Rugby Store, 4 Rutland St., Limerick.

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