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News article – Style E 2276

News article – Style E 2276

A Question of Try, Try & Try Again For Munster.

Italian side Viadana need expect that Munster will take no prisioners when the sides meet in Musgrave Park on Friday evening in this third round Heineken Cup tie. The objective for Alan Gaffney’s side is crystal clear. They must win, win well and score a hatful of tries. As things stand Munster have the worst try scoring record in their pool, but more importantly than that, they are 12 tries adrift of Gloucester. And, thanks to the abysmal form of the Welsh, the idea that the best runners-up will come from the Pool that has an Italian side, no longer pertains.

So, as things stand, Munster need to make up the try scoring deficit, win all their remaining games – including away in Perpignan – and then beat Gloucester in the final game in Thomond Park.

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But first up the Italians, a side who have shipped 126 points in two matches so far. But that included a visit from Gloucester and a trip to Perpignan, and anyone expecting the visitors to fall over and let Munster tickle their bellies might note that the Italian have scored more points and three more tries than last year’s beaten finalists.

The threat from the Italians will come from flanker Aaron Persico, wing Roberto Pedrazzi and centre Sandro Ceppolino All three have played for Italy, Persico most tecently in the autumn internationals and he is credited with having made more ball carries than other player in the first two rounds of the competition.

From Munster’s point of view, they may well be without Donncha O’Callaghan who dislocated a finger in the game against Connacht but the cover in the second row comes in the shape of Paul O’Connell, Mick O’Driscoll, and Mick Galwey.

There’s every indication that Anthony Horgan and Jeremy Staunton will make a return to the squad with John Kelly also expected back in the coming weeks.

Munster still face a long road if they are to reach the knock-out stages for a fifth successive year. Gaffney sets out their task in simple terms. “We’ve got to win all our remaining games, there’s no room for any slip-ups. I think ten points will get us through, but this competition is so tight that when you lose a game, as we did in Gloucester, you put yourself under pressure.”

Munster have been here before but if you want an ‘old dog for the hard road’, you need look no further than Gaffney’s kennel.

Munster’s Record in Europe.

1995/96. v Castres (away), btn 19-12.
1996/97. v Toulouse (away) btn 60-19.
1997/98. v Bourgoin (home), won 17-15; v Bourgoin (away), btn 21-6.
1998/99. v Perpignan (away), btn 41-24; v Perpignan (home), won 13-5.
199/00. v Colomiers (away) won 31-15; v Colomiers (home), won 23-5; v Stade Francais (qtr-fnl, home), won 27-10; v Toulouse (s-fnl, away), won 31-25.
2000/01. v Castres (away), won 32-29; v Castres (home), won 21-11; v Biarritz (qtr-fnl, home), won 38-29; v Stade Francais (s-fnl, away), btn 16-15.
2001/02. v Castres (home), won 28-23; v Castres (away), btn 21-13; v Stade Francais (qtr-fnl,away), won 16-14; v Castres (s-fnl, away), won 25-17.