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RCC Game4) Clermont V Munster Sun Dec14th 3.15KO Sky Sports 2

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  • RCC Game4) Clermont V Munster Sun Dec14th 3.15KO Sky Sports 2

    Been a long week. Saturday evening seems an age ago already, and we are now in the regroup and reassess phase of this crucial doubleheader. Munster really struggled, all over the place and our fate is no longer in our own hands regarding qualification from the pools. However we all kinda knew it was gonna take the skill of an escape artist to make it to the next stage with Sarries and Clermont. Time to lay down some optimism and hope that we can return the favour to our hosts on Sunday and breach their heavily guarded fortress.

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    Disappointing last week, there was a strange mood in Thomond Park before the game started, the visiting supporters are a passionate bunch and deserve huge credit for their intensity and courtesy. However they set the tone both on and off the field for the game in its entirety, cannot really complain about the manner of the defeat but I think everyone can agree that what transpired was way below the levels the team and management set themselves, and hopefully that shall be addressed this weekend.

    Our tried and tested gameplan had by and large reaped dividends thus far this season, and we have not become a bad team overnight, so with another weeks' training together and a few injured returnees - Smith Copeland Guinazu we might see a more cohesive and complete Munster performance in France, there has been many mentions of letting the side and each other down from the players this week. Axel is keeping his cards close to his chest on the status of the loose heads and he's right too fingers crossed we will have a solid scrum to launch from.

    What Munster need to do next is pretty much the pinnacle of european club rugby outside of qualifying for the final, its something we've never done before and has been done twice in eighty-odd matches, namely we've to win in Tyretown. It is really as simple as that, if Munster want to determine their qualification they've to get back to the summit of the pool, and what better way to notch up victory number 100 in European rugby? Thats the kinda venue to merit such an achievement. How to get the win though? it's gonna take ingenuity and invention, given Munster threw the kitchen sink at a Clermontoise wall and got a losing BP for their trouble. Munster need to pick up the dishwasher, and the fridge and anything else to hand and fire it all at Clermont at once.

    We've been branded one trick ponies, and that isn't entirely accurate, Munster this season has been about seeking out weaknesses and exploiting them. A pack on the front foot can pick and drive around you, they can maul through you, they can suck you narrow and give it to the skinnies to run it home, but after a pack gets on the front foot its going to be all about securing the win. Munsters' pack has been on the front foot a lot more than the back foot overall this season, its the basis of our game once again, there is nuances to our little trick. But the pack has got to get back on the front foot in France.

    Munster must innovate and give Clermont a headache and a few problems to sort out themselves, something we really failed to do in Limerick. If we are going to kick it must be to our benefit or contestable, not just for the sake of hoofing it high or spraying a speculator into Nalaga's breadbasket. If we are going to run it back we must do so aggressively, making space and support for the carrier to create a good quick ball that we can use. Above all else though, when Munster go to create a ruck it must be on their terms, not the opposition terms, Gibbes has our number on that one for far too long.

    We can be better than our last game, the team wont make so many errors, waste as much possession, and I believe have the players to create try chances, because to win in that ground Munster will need to score tries, plural. Clermont will once again, come out of the blocks like a power sprinter in the hopes they can put the head to head out of sight, and thats a good chance for leading players to make the telling hits: Paulie, CJ, Foley & POM all looking for fellas to empty, set the tone of whats expected and make sure Clermont meet the real Munster.

    He's taken a lot of flak this week, but looking at his career on the field the one thing he had to do was innovate to get ahead, Anthony Foley hadn't the natural bulk or physical prowess to dominate in the game, he'd a playing brain second to none though and thats what made him so exceptional, Micko is a similar story, Fla was a perfectionist and obsessive. All hewn from a greater than the sum of its parts mentality. They'll have something for Clermont to figure out this time round.

    Concentration on the field is key, Restarts, Maulage, Lineout, Ball presentation and Game Management will all be better this weekend. All is not lost yet:

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    “If we play extremely well we’re always going to be hard to beat. The biggest thing that drives you on, is the fear, the fear of leaving people down, your families.”

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    Truly a superlative 'away' performance in Limerick. ASM once again dispel the notion that french clubs don't travel, well this one does, its afraid of nobody and shows everyone they play the utmost respect in terms of selection and support travelling.

    Singling out Camile Lopez, not for what he does with the ball, even though hes superb in possession but for what he offers that Brock never has - he hits the opposition attackers a smack. Brock will drop into sweeper when they havent the ball, Lopez is there at the coalface looking for targets to hit, adding another body to the line and narrowing the width of the field. Their giant pack fans out, their centres are all bulls, the back three sit behind and cover the corners and leave the answer up to the opposition to figure out. Offensive options run dry quickly, for two reasons, they've as good a linespeed as anyone, akin to Wasps in their pomp, but secondly they can chop tackle and jackal over the ball to slow everything down and make the pace of their game what they want it to be.

    It was a textbook defensive effort from them for the entire 80 mins last weekend, cherry on top being the last lineout steal to guarantee them the win. They mauled in a good try in the second minute, they doubled their lead with a simple switch in the centres and Fofana cantered into the corner and after that Munster were in chase mode and Clermont knew they'd the organisation and ability to keep us at arms length for the day. Worryingly, they've a squad deep enough to increase the intensity on their home patch, the calibre of their players is extremely high and all those lads know they have to make an impression any time they get on the field because theres viable options looking to take their spot.

    They have weaknesses too though, they were happy to give us the ball in Limerick and created almost nothing after the opening half hour, if we can be more efficient and create a few linebreaks or even get ahead of them they might start to feel the heat, it happened to the Thomond crowd, why can't it happen to the Michelin Men? They will be expecting to win this weekend, that might suit Munster.

    Things to watch out for

    Variations to negate a rush defence - diagonal grubbers, simple offloads in contact, a tighter ruck game and better picking and driving. Penney had the Munster pack able to double pop the ball out of contact to a trundling fatty, its in our arsenal and should be used.

    BJ Botha's arse - Murray Kinsella has managed to compile a lengthy analysis piece on BJ's battle with Domingo HERE

    Cute Kerry Hoor - Riding pine or time to shine?

    Mixing up the lineout - POM being launched at 2/4/6 wherever, hopefully Copeland is available too to help the tiring bodies, Paulie called a rake of ball in Thomond

    Smith and Hurley in midfield? - Greater than the sum of its parts

    Julien Bonnaire - Eternal Irish heartbreaker and destroyer of dreams continued his reign of terror on us

    Nige has the whistle - not everyones cup of tea, but any referee who explains the game as he's playing it is skilled

    Quotable and Notable

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    These french chickens certainly roosted last weekend


    Mumhan Abú
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