Munster will fly home from Wales tonight with players and management either planning holidays or a RaboDirect PRO12 final in a fortnight’s time, potentially against the Heineken Cup champions.
All the signs favour an Ospreys win. They've only been beaten once this season at home. They’ve won the two encounters in the Rabo this season and among the twelve players unavailable to Tony McGahan, it’s the most recent additions to that injured list, Paul O’Connell, Damien Varley, James Coughlan, David Wallace and now Felix Jones, that will be most keenly felt.
Munster have learned to live without frontliners such as Doug Howlett, Denis Leamy and Niall Ronan as well as retirees John Hayes and Jerry Flannery and deserve credit for having reached this stage of the season still in with a shot at the title. Nevertheless, winning at the Liberty at this time of the season requires experience and then some. And a huge amount therefore will be expected of what is essentially a callow squad.
Simon Zebo however is third in the leading try scorer list (8), Ian Keatley is third leading points scorer (177) while locks Mick O'Driscoll and Donncha O'Callaghan have over 400 caps between them.
For their part, Ospreys espouse confidence with five wins on the trot under their belts, a run that started with victory over Leinster at the RDS, with some close to the team already talking about a return to Dublin for the final !
They'll be without the likes of Tommy Bowe, Huw Bennett and Cai Griffiths but still have a plethora of Welsh internationals plus the incentive of another Liberty goodbye to Shane Williams to take care of.
Games between the sides in the recent past have ended with just one score separating and there's no reason to believe this one will end any differently.
Ospreys: R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, S Williams; D Biggar, K Fotuaili’i; P James, R Hibbard, A Jones, A Wyn Jones, I Evans, R Jones, J Tipuric, J Bearman. Replacements: S Baldwin, R Bevington, A Jarvis, J King, T Smith, R Webb, M Morgan, T Isaacs.
Munster: J Murphy; I Dineen, K Earls, L Mafi, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; W du Preez, M Sherry, B Botha, D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll, D Ryan, T O’Donnell, P O’Mahony. Replacements: D Fogarty, D Kilcoyne, S Archer, Dave OCallaghan, P Butler, T OLeary, R OGara, D Barnes.
Referee: A Rolland