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Munster Up Against It In Swansea

9th January 2009 By Munster Rugby

Munster Up Against It In Swansea

Munster couldn’t have picked a tougher place to get their Magners League title challenge back on track than the Liberty Stadium where they play the League leaders this evening.

The home side have won all seven home games in all competitions and Munster have never won here, whilst you have to go back to November 2007 to find the last Irish side (Leinster) to win at Liberty Stadium.

And despite the fact that coach Sean Holley has opted to rest the likes of Tommy Bowe, Gavin Henson, Ryan Jones and Adam Jones, his side go into this game as warm favourites to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Holley who refuses to be distracted by all the talk that he is soon to be replaced by Scott Johnson believes his side are well placed to regain the title, “We are top of the league at the halfway stage and we have only played three games at home. With six in Swansea in the second half, we have to look at it really confidently.

” Munster have a huge pedigree and I’m sure they will be looking to put the record straight after last weekend’s result. They are not double European champions without having a strong squad. But we have a good record against Munster, and we want to keep that record intact this weekend.”

The last time Munster visited they lost 16-3, winning the end of season return 9-8 and team manager Shaun Payne knows his side will be up against it this evening.

“It is a really difficult place to come and get a result,” he says. “They are going very well in three competitions and when you have that sort of momentum it means the confidence really flows. I dont believe the talk of a change in coach will be a distraction at all. If anything that sort of scenario can drive players on.

“But we wont concern ourselves with happenings in their camp. We have to focus on our own game and how we want to play the game. What we need from ourselves is a good performance. We need to put in practice on the field tonight what we have been working on in training this week. I think we can do that we will give a good account of ourselves.”

Munster arrived into a cold and dark Cardiff Airport at 4pm yesterday evening. En route to their base – The Towers Hotel just outside Swansea – they stopped off at Llanharen RFC for the usual Captain’s Run that attracted quite a local gathering led by Llanharen coach, the former Bridgend and Welsh great Denis John.

Conditions this evening at Liberty Stadium are expected to be cold and dry.

Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett, B Murphy, L Mafi, I Dowling; P Warwick, T O’Leary; F Pucciariello, J Flannery, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell (capt); A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy. Replacements: D Fogarty, T Ryan, M O’Driscoll, J O’Sullivan, P Stringer, C Doyle, T Gleeson.

Ospreys: L Byrne; J Vaughton, S Parker, A Bishop, S Williams; J Hook, M Phillips; P James (capt), R Hibbard, C Griffiths; A-Wyn Jones, J Thomas; T Smith, S Tandy, F Tiatia. Replacements: H Bennett, R Bevington, L Bateman, M Holah, R Webb, D Biggar, K Phillips.

 

Referee: Andy Macpherson (Scotland).

 

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