Wednesday 20 March 2019

Munster to make it a perfect 10

Tadhg Beirne’s contribution has been huge
Tadhg Beirne’s contribution has been huge

Munster are re-establishing Thomond Park as something of a fortress in Europe.

They will hunt their tenth straight victory in the competition in Limerick tomorrow.

This is their most consistent series since a 17-game stretch from the beginning of the 2007/2008 season until losing to Ulster in the quarter-final in 2012.

It would be extremely wasteful to exert so much energy to grab two points away to Exeter just to throw away the lure of four, or even five, back at home.

Munster have a capacity to park their form in the PRO14 League and morph into that European titan even without Conor Murray.

While Joey Carbery's game is growing, Tadhg Beirne's contribution has been simply astounding.

The concern that the Kildare man was more a beneficiary of Wayne Pivac's system at The Scarlets has been put to bed already.

His appetite for work, feel for the game and physical engagements are an example to others.

Former Ulster and Ireland out-half David Humphreys, Gloucester's Director of Rugby, finally appears to be onto something with the employment of South African Johan Ackermann as the head coach.

The non-negotiable priority of any club coming to Thomond has to be defence.

There is no holding back the barriers to Munster's onslaught without complete commitment to making those hits and bouncing up for more work.

In the first round, the Cherry and Whites just about scraped through 19-14 against French champions Castres Olympique at Kingsholm in a tussle they could easily have lost.

That would have given them all the incentive in the world to come over and make a stand.

Most importantly, Gloucester missed just six tackles against Castres for a completion rate of 95 per cent; the best among all 20 clubs in the first round.

In a battle of wills, Munster are rarely the first to crack on their home turf.

Champions Cup: Munster v Gloucester, Live Channel 4/BT Sp 2 (KO 1.0)

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