Monday 23 October 2017

Old school values work in Foley era

CARDIFF BLUES v MUNSTER, The Arms Park, Tomorrow (KO 5.15) Live Sky Sp 2

Winning ugly can be a beautiful thing.

Munster did what they had to do against Saracens in the Champions Cup.

They took away their targets by turning the English club with a sound kicking game, turning the visitors' strength into a weakness.

Anthony Foley may have to adopt similar tactics against Cardiff where a loose approach with the ball flying all over the place would play into the hands of The Blues dangerous runners.

The Welsh club has not started out well in the PRO12, holding the under-whelming record of one win from six.

This has been partly repaired by back-to-back wins in the Challenge Cup at home to Bernard Jackman's Grenoble (37-14) and away to the Italians from Rovigo (33-18).

It is a way, not necessarily the best one, to recover confidence in what Director of Rugby Mark Hammett is trying to implement at Cardiff.

They have shown in patches that they can cut loose and it would be a naive man that would take them lightly.

Munster are making progress by stealth rather than the revolutionary approach taken by Foley's predecessor Rob Penney. They want to play in the right area of the pitch. Fair enough.

Still, the immobile partnership between Denis Hurley and Andrew Smith in the centre is just crying out to be exploited by nimble runners with fancy footwork.

However, the natural instincts embedded in the players are to win by any means necessary and there is a ruthless streak returning to the forward pack.

The maul, the pick-and-jam, the close in runners and taking it up the guts are all central.

The Men from the South have won all three matches on both fronts away from home and they have lost to Cardiff just once in their last eight meetings, not at The Arms Park since 2009.

Verdict: Munster

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