Hoping History Will Repeat ?
7th December 2005 By Munster Rugby
On Saturday, Munster’s 11th competitive game of the season sees them pitted against Newport-Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade in the Heineken Cup
The last time Munster went to Rodney Parade for a Heineken Cup game was in January 2001 for Round Five of the pool stage. At that particular time Munster led the group on six points, two ahead of the home side and those of us privileged to be among the full-house attendance, witnessed a classic encounter.
And it wasn t just the game itself that warmed the cockles it was the entire package.
The atmosphere, in the lead-up, during and after the game was simply tremendous. There was a great buzz in Newport that day and the marvellous Newport supporters coped with their bitter disappointment by extending the hand of friendship to the visiting support.
Naturally enough Munster will hold the fonder memory. Having been blitzed in an opening quarter that yielded tries for Matt Pini and Matt Mostyn, Munster found themselves trailing 21-10 at the break.
But then came a second half – and tries from Mike Mullins and Anthony Horgan – that has to be right up there with the best they have produced in Europe. And it had to be because this was the Newport of Gary Teichmann, Andy Marinos, Ben Breeze, Shane Howarth, Ian Gough, Simon Raiwalui, Alix Popham, a side brimming with flair.
In 2001 for Munster it was their 11th competitive game in a season that ultimately saw them play 18 times ( four friendlies included).
On Saturday Munster play their 11th competitive game of the season but in contrast to four years ago, their programme this season will see them play a minimum of 26 competitive games.
Just seven of those who started for Munster back in 2001 are likely to be making the visit. The second-row pairing of Mick Galwey and John Langford have been joined in retirement by Peter Clohessy, Dominic Crotty, John O Neill and Killian Keane.
Two of Munster s try-scorers from that day in 2001 – Ronan O Gara and Anthony Horgan should once again be on the flight from Cork to Cardiff airport. The other, Mike Mullins he scored a cracker just after coming on as a second half replacement for Killian Keane is out through injury.
And for the record, the Heineken Man of the Match was O Gara. Besides his crucial first half try, he kicked three conversions, five penalties and a drop-goal.
Saturday January 13th 2001, Rodney Parade, Newport
Newport 24-39 Munster
Munster: D Crotty; J O’Neill, K Keane (M Mullins 57min), J Kelly, A Horgan; R O’Gara, P Stringer; P Clohessy, F Sheahan, J Hayes; M Galwey, J Langford; D Wallace, A Quinlan, A Foley.
Newport: M Pini; M Mostyn, J Jones-Hughes, A Marinos (J Pritchard 44 min), M Llewellyn; S Howarth, D Edwards; C Jones, J Richards, R Snow; S Raiwalui, I Gough; A Popham, G Teichmann, J Forster (J Powell 73 min).
Referee: Joel Jutge