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Munster Set For Super Saturday

3rd May 2017 By The Editor

Munster Set For Super Saturday

Last weekend’s bonus point win in Treviso saw Munster secure a home semi final for only the second time in the last seven seasons, but if they are to overhaul Leinster and become the play-off’s top seeds they will need to defeat Connacht at Thomond Park this weekend and hope that Leinster trip up in Belfast.

Last weekend’s bonus point win in Treviso saw Munster secure a home semi final for only the second time in the last seven seasons, but if they are to overhaul Leinster and become the play-off’s top seeds they will need to defeat Connacht at Thomond Park this weekend and hope that Leinster trip up in Belfast.

Traditional derby games are the order of the day as the regular season comes to a close in a Super Saturday of action with all games kicking off at 5.15pm.  While it’s most likely that Munster will face Scarlets or Ospreys at Thomond Park on May 20th, there remains the slimmest of chances that Ulster will make the final four.  The northern province entertain Leinster at a sold out Kingspan Stadium needing a bonus point win at the very minimum.  From there, Les Kiss’ men require Ospreys to lose to Scarlets without any losing bonus point and/or try-scoring bonus point, and make up a points difference of 73.

It’s most likely then that Leinster, Munster, Scarlets and Ospreys will make up the final four. As it currently stands – where first plays fourth and second plays third – Munster would host Scarlets in the semi final with Ospreys away to Leinster the night previous.  However, this weekend’s encounters in Thomond Park, Kingspan Stadium and Parc y Scarlets will decide that order and the teams for definite.

From a Connacht perspective, they travel to Limerick having already secured their place in the Champions Cup play-offs, but depending on Cardiff Blues’ result, a bonus point win may allow Pat Lam’s team to finish out the regular season in seventh position.

Munster and Connacht enter round 22 with contrasting fortunes of late, Munster winning their last five PRO12 encounters with only one defeat since round 6 – home to Scarlets on February 24th – while Connacht’s only win in the last five rounds was at Edinburgh on April 7th.

Yet the Westerners are defending champions for a reason and will hold no fear of Thomond Park, a venue where as recently as last season they handed Munster a 12-18 defeat – their first in 29 years at the venue – with danger men Tiernan O’Halloran and Bundee Aki both crossing for tries.

And while talisman Aki may miss Saturday’s showdown due to a three-match suspension, O’Halloran is one threat foremost in the thoughts of Rassie Erasmus this week.  The Munster Director of Rugby met with media this week and said, “We must try to win against a team who like to run the ball from all over the park.”

This was perhaps best demonstrated in Connacht’s loss to Leinster in round 20 where, the result aside, O’Halloran and Connacht orchestrated the best score of the game – the fullback evading the Leinster defence from deep before backs, forwards and the boot of Jack Carty all combined to send Danie Poolman over in the corner.  The perfect team try, a deserved nominee for PRO12 try of the season, and a sign of what Connacht can do if you give them an inch.

However Munster must also take credit for their attack.  Unlike last season where an inability to convert scorable chances dogged much of their campaign, Munster’s precision in the opposition 22 has already seen them score 70 tries this season – six more than Connacht’s title winning exploits last season.

Munster v Connacht, Guinness PRO12 round 22, Saturday May 6th at Thomond Park, ko 5.15pm.

Tickets can be purchased online here, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, or by calling 061 421103.

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU, 51st competition game)

Assistant Referees:  TBC

Citing Commissioner:  Wayne Sheridan (IRFU)

TMO: TBC

HEAD TO HEAD – RECENT GUINNESS PRO12 MEETINGS
Date Venue M C Munster scorers Connacht scorers
Sat 19 Apr 14 Sportsground 32 23 Andrew Conway(T) Paddy Butler(T) Denis Hurley(T) Ian Keatley(3C/2P) Gerhard van den Heever(T) Matt Healy(T) Danie Poolman(T) Eoin McKeon(T) Dan Parks(C) Miah Nikora(2P)
Thu 1 Jan 15 Sportsground 16 24 Peter O’Mahony(T) Ian Keatley(C/3P) Kieran Marmion(T) Darragh Leader(2C) Aly Muldowney(T) Miah Nikora(P) Craig Ronaldson(T/C)
Sat 28 Mar 15 Thomond Park 42 20 Duncan Casey(T) Andrew Smith(T) Keith Earls(T) JJ Hanrahan(3C) Billy Holland(T) Denis Hurley(T) Ian Keatley(3C) Simon Zebo(T) Jack Carty(2P) Shane O’Leary(T) Miah Nikora(T/2C)
Sat 28 Nov 15 Thomond Park 12 18 Niall Scannell(T) Ian Keatley(C) Penalty Try(T) Tiernan O’Halloran(T) Bundee Aki(T) Craig Ronaldson(C/2P)
Sat 16 Apr 16 Sportsground 14 35 Johnny Holland(2C) Mike Sherry(T) Simon Zebo(T) Finlay Bealham(T) Shane O’Leary(3C/3P) Niyi Adeolokun(2T) Penalty Try(T)
Sat 31 Dec 16 Sportsground 16 9 Rhys Marshall(T) Ian Keatley(C/D/2P) Jack Carty(3P)

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:

Played 29, Munster won 24, Connacht won 4 and 1 game drawn.

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