Friday 28 October 2016

Foley needs something special in win-or-bust tie

Robin Copeland (Sportsfile)
Robin Copeland (Sportsfile)

Munster have a 75 per cent winning return from their three previous clashes with Stade Francais in Europe.

It is not likely to matter much here as the last of them came as far back as 2004.

The Paris club has won 36 of 38 home matches in Europe. If they can continue that trend, Munster will lose three straight for the first time in the European Cup. The French have averaged more tries (5.3), metres made (528) and clean breaks (13) than any other club this season.

This all points towards the mood that takes the suitably temperamental Parisians.

The precious points gained over Ulster in the PRO12 has to be the template for Anthony Foley to move forward.

Although there are half-a-dozen alterations, no one would quibble with the implant of Dave Foley, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Andrew Conway.


It is, however, the return of Robin Copeland to the back row that could make all the difference.

There is a natural balance to the unit with Copeland the type of man who saves his best for the big day.

Maybe it is his inconsistency on lesser occasions that is holding him back from higher honours.

Munster will have to be as vigilant on defence in this area as Sergio Parisse is never one to pass up an opportunity to exploit any lapses.

Just like Italy, Stade is a different proposition with their talismanic captain.

It could all come down to whether Ian Keatley's rehabilitation from poor form and substandard place-kicking is complete. He can do it. It is just he doesn't always.

Stade Francais: H Bonneval; J Arias, W Vuidarvuwalu, P Williams, J Raisuqe; M Steyn, J Dupuy; Z Taulafo, L Sempéré, P Alo Emile, H Pyle, P Gabrillagues, S Macalou, S Nicolas, S Parisse (capt).

Munster: A Conway; K Earls, F Saili, R Scannell, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, BJ Botha, D Foley, M Chisholm, R Copeland, T O'Donnell, CJ Stander (capt).

Verdict: Munster.

Stade Francais v Munster, Stade Jean Bouin, Today KO 4.45 (Sky Sports 1)

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