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Saturday 14 December 2019

Weak 'Prey must be killed by Munster

Head coach Johann van Graan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Head coach Johann van Graan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Munster have done their best to talk up the Ospreys this week, but the truth is, the Welsh side are in all sorts of bother, and if Munster are to get out of what is a tough pool, then a win this evening at the Liberty Stadium (Live BT Sport 5.30) is non-negotiable.

The Ospreys don't even have the added boost of their Welsh internationals being available for selection and without the likes of Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric, they are seriously weakened.

Munster won't mind a jot about that, particularly because they have had their own issues at out-half and loosehead. Nevertheless, they come into this Champions Cup opener full of confidence and ready to hit the ground running.

Injured

Even without the injured Tadhg Beirne and Dave Kilcoyne, who has been in superb form, their pack should have way too much power for a depleted Ospreys side.

If the forwards can provide the platform they are expected to, Tyler Bleyendaal must get a back-line, which is littered with threats, moving.

Andrew Conway is arguably the form Irish back right now and Munster must get him involved as often as possible.

Munster know how important a positive start to the campaign is, especially with Racing coming to Thomond Park next week before the crucial back-to-back meetings with Saracens in December.

Johann van Graan's side were comfortable winners at home to the Ospreys last month, but the Munster head coach is adamant that this is irrelevant.

"The Champions Cup has got nothing to do with what happens in the PRO14. We have had a bit of a taste about what they are about.

"For us it's an away game, and we have learned from the previous two years specifically, you need to perform every single minute," says Van Graan.

"We drew the previous two years and we would love to get a win in round one but you get nothing for free in the Champions Cup. We will have to make sure we put in a quality performance."

Munster should do just that because as starts on the road to the Champions Cup go, this is about as winnable as it gets.

Ospreys: C Evans; H Dirksen, T Thomas-Wheeler, S Williams, T Williams; L Price, S Venter; R Jones, S Otten, M Fia; M Orie, Ashley; D Lydiate (capt), O Cracknell, M Morris. Reps: I Phillips, N Smith, G Gajion, B Davies, S Cross, A Davies, J Hook, K Williams.

Munster: M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, K Earls; T Bleyendaal, C Murray; J Loughman, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, B Holland; P O'Mahony (capt), T O'Donnell, CJ Stander. Reps: K O'Byrne, J Cronin, S Archer, T Beirne, A Botha, A Mathewson, S Arnold, D Goggin.

Verdict: Munster

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