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Munster v Glasgow. Musgrave Park Saturday 28 Feb. 7.15 SKY SPORTS


  • Munster v Glasgow. Musgrave Park Saturday 28 Feb. 7.15 SKY SPORTS

    These rounds of matches during Test windows are almost always impossible to call, players spend a lot of time travelling to and fro from national camps and training with the provinces is always disjointed. Having said that it is a key time to make inroads into cementing a pro12 playoff and considering how tight it is at the summit every single game counts, massively. Munster managed a draw away to Scarlets last weekend which saw them drop from second to third on the league table.

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    Our form

    We last met Glasgow on December 20th, 2014 and since then we have played seven matches, resulting in 4 wins, a draw & 2 losses. Saracens hammered the stuffing out of us and Connacht blitzed Munster on New Years Day. Outside of that it hasn’t been too bad a period for Axel and his men, if you look at the Blues and Sale games we managed to score 98 points in 160 mins of rugby, we also put 31 points on Zebre away and a very impressive 28 points at home to Leinster over Christmas. There is an argument to say that Munster haven’t been playing the sexiest rugby ever seen lately but its resulting in an average of 27 points a game in the league since we met Glasgow last, whats more impressive is that when we do get on the front foot lately we’ve stuck at attacking and racking up the points for the full 80 mins.

    There have been a few blossoming young bucks arriving on the scene since last December too, none more so than ‘try machine’ Jack O’Donoghue. The young man seems to have a huge amount of awareness and adaptability in his game already, any time he has managed to get on the field with the senior team he has slotted in seamlessly and as his try against Cardiff showed, he is a thoroughbred running backrow. Its always exciting when a youngfella lives up to the hype, akin to POM in his early days it is great to see another massive potential break through at a key time when injuries beset the squad.

    Last weekend was a very mixed bag, Munster looked disjointed and in disarray at various stages during the game in Parc Y Scarlets, not to make excuses but the stop start nature of training at the moment couldn’t have helped. At least this week they have known who they will have and they won’t from Joe and can be building the gameplan to suit the selection available. It was fantastic to see Stander return unscathed and Earls get another decent game under his belt, when both of them are fully fit it gives options to our halfbacks, we can trundle up or look to put Earls in space.

    Munster are unbeaten in Muzzer for the last 25 months, a very credible stat to hold onto this weekend, however we have lost our last three meetings with Glasgow Warriors and they seem to have our gameplan twigged, the game last December was a bit of a feisty affair with Paulie seeing a sin binning for diving on a ball over the try line to sneak a try. These games have been very very heated and bad tempered of late, in the main because I believe this is becoming a rivalry of some significance. Hopefully both sides will make the playoffs, hopefully Nigel will ensure a fast open running game of rugby and hopefully Munster can extend the run in Fortress Muzzer.

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    Their form

    In their seven games since our last meeting they have won five and lost two, the losses were away to Edinburgh in Murrayfield over Christmas and away to Bath in the Rec in Rd6 of the European Cup. The big win in all this time though was their beating of Ospreys last weekend, to put them a full 4 points ahead of the chasing pack from 1st place.

    These lads have lost in Belfast, Llanelli and Murrayfield, and thats it, they've won every game everywhere else in this competition. There is a reason Vern Cotter named 15 Glasgow players in his Six Nations Squad. There are going to be missing a key man in Nakawara, after he was found guilty of striking another player with his head in last weekends game with Ospreys. Nakawara is a quintessential Fijian style player, he holds the ball in one long arm and looks to pop it to whoever he can out of the tackle, he will be missed by them.

    They may be missing a whole raft of internationals but that doesn't mean they still dont have recognisable names to pick from, going by who started against Ospreys they still have access to fellas like: Matawalu, DTH VanDerMerwe, Peter Horne, Ryan Grant, Ali Kellock and Josh Strauss. There is a rake of internationals in that selection and the spine of a side to be built around. I’ve never seen Strauss have a bad game against Munster, he is a totem for them, while Ali Kellock would remind me of our own Micko in that he is uber reliant and always available to Glasgow when called upon.

    They have not won in Muzzer since May 2008 but as said above, Glasgow seem to have our number in ho to slow our momentum and frustrate us into silly errors. Munster will need to look a lot keener and meaner to get a win against this outfit, and they wont be coming over to make up the numbers.

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    (Finn Russell and Conor Murray, both unavailable this weekend)

    Things to look out for

    In scoring their opening try last weekend Glasgow took the ball away from a splintered scrum and ran it toward the goalposts, there was a decent-ish scrambling tackle made by Ospreys and the ball was slowed momentarily off the ground. Out of nowhere a Glasgow player appears behind the ball carrier and takes his own teammate out at the knees to get the ball on the floor, it was switched back in the direction of where the original scrum was taken and they scored a try. Glasgow dont want to ruck on their own ball, they want it in and out as quick as possible and play the game at a pace their opposition wont enjoy.

    As for us, an improvement in scrummaging is VITAL, Glasgow made mincemeat of Ospreys in this area last weekend.

    Who lines out in the second row for us, given that BillyH’s form has bee rewarded with a trip to Carton House this week it’ll be interesting to see who packs down beside Donnacha.

    Munster need to clear out better and make life easier for it halfbacks this weekend, Scarlets made things mighty difficult for Keats by rushing him at all opportunities.

    Key Men

    BJ Botha - Scrum is not half the weapon it was, Glasgow have two capped scotsmen at loosehead and hooker, plus a slab of Bok beef at 3.

    Ali Kellock- damn abrasive, not one for backing down

    Nigel Owens - a true character of the game and a fantastic learning resource if you just listen to him during the game

    Quotable and Notable

    I know the last Glasgow preview had JJ’s wonder try over in Scotstoun with added handoff to the forhead but if you search back a little further you can find another, super individual effort:

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