This Friday night Scotstoun Stadium plays host to the first of this season’s RaboDirect PRO12 semi-finals which sees Glasgow Warriors and Munster enter the encounter with contrasting form.
Consistency is what separates the two sides with Glasgow currently on an eight-match winning streak versus Munster’s glimpses of brilliance coupled with unforced errors that have seen the province win just two of their last five PRO12 games.
That said, earlier history would suggest the teams are more evenly matched. Munster and Glasgow are one win apiece from the league’s regular season, with both sides inflicting a home defeat on each other.
The Warriors have reached the knockout stages for the third successive year, while Munster have done so in four of the last five years. However what stands in Glasgow’s favour this time is home advantage in the last-four, something they have never had before.
Speaking after training today Munster’s Player of the Year Conor Murray spoke about the running threat Glasgow present.
“They’re playing a really good brand of rugby at the moment with line breakers throughout their back-line that aren’t afraid to have a cut,” he said.
“They have a structure that suits the type of players they have and all their players believe in that structure.”
Second row David Foley is fully aware of the Scots’ power up front, adding: “They have an immensely strong pack with us barely beating them away earlier this season. Then they came to Thomond Park and beat us well.
“Of all the games we played at home this year, their pack was one of the best and it’s going to be a really tough physical battle up front.”
Unhappy with his performance at the breakdown against Ulster, Foley will use that frustration as motivation this weekend.
“Ulster was probably my poorest performance at the breakdown so far this season and I’m really angry with myself over that. Both I and the team need to play really well this weekend to do ourselves justice and to be in with a chance.”
Meanwhile, Munster head coach Rob Penney knows that despite last Saturday night’s poor performance, his side will be fully up for this game.
“It’s an extremely important fixture on Friday night so it takes care of itself. If you can’t get yourself up for a semi-final then you should question why you are in the game.”
On his team’s recent inconsistency, he admitted: “It’s been disappointing and frustrating but that said, generally the boys have put in a really good performance when it’s really been required, so I’ve got faith the boys will front again this weekend and give it a really good go.
“Glasgow have been the form side, particularly with the ball in hand. They’ve got a nice attacking structure that’s hard to combat and on the other side of the ball they’re very stingy and that makes them tough to penetrate.”
On the injury front, Penney ruled Denis Hurley out of contention this week as the utility back rehabs an irritated Achilles tendon, while winger Andrew Conway returns to limited training after sustaining a sprained toe against Edinburgh.
It was confirmed that Stephen Archer will not make a return to action until pre-season as he continues to progress with his rehabilitation from a bulging disc in his neck. The tighthead prop will not be available for selection for the summer touring sides.
Cathal Sheridan, who returned to limited training last week, continues to be integrated back into training and although not ready for selection this week is very close to a return.
Peter O’Mahony, David O’Callaghan and Mike Sherry continue with their rehabilitation programmes, while Donnacha Ryan is reviewed on an ongoing basis by the specialist for his foot injury.
Munster’s semi-final showdown with the Warriors on Friday kicks off at 7.35pm at Scotstoun. Tickets are available to purchase online here.