MUN­STER

The Rugby Paper - - Analysis -

EURO SEA­SON SO FAR:

Get­ting the job done, just. Sneaked past Toulon 20-19 in their con­tro­ver­sial quar­ter­fi­nal win al­though no­body could ar­gue over the qual­ity of An­drew Con­way’s match

win­ner which was a try for the ages. Mun­ster had called on all their ex­pe­ri­ence in a tricky pool cam­paign. Cas­tres were on a ‘good day’ when host­ing

Mun­ster and the Ir­ish side were con­tent with a 17-17 draw and a week later they eased past Rac­ing 14-7. Against Tigers in the back-to-back De­cem­ber games they fi­nally hit their straps, but a de­feat away to Rac­ing meant Mun­ster still had work to do in the fi­nal game against Cas­tres, when they won in style.

SEMI-FI­NAL HIS­TORY:

This, in­cred­i­bly, will be Mun­ster’s thir­teenth semi-fi­nal since their first in 2000. No team in Europe has more ex­pe­ri­ence at this stage of the com­pe­ti­tion, they know all the pit­falls. Af­ter win­ning two of their first three semi-fi­nals away to French teams – Toulouse in Bordeaux in 2000, Cas­tres in Beziers in 2002 – Mun­ster have lost their last four on French soil so are un­der no il­lu­sion as to how dif­fi­cult it proves on the road. At home their 37-32 semi-fi­nal de­feat by Wasps at Lans­downe Road in 2004 is fre­quently re­ferred to as the great­est Heineken Cup tie ever, while there were two ti­tanic semi­fi­nals against Le­in­ster in the mid-noughties which fin­ished with both sides record­ing one vic­tory. STARMEN: A team in the true sense but there are three in­di­vid­u­als who run the show at Mun­ster. Peter O’Ma­hony and CJ Stander in the back row, with the for­mer also their key li­ne­out man, while Conor Mur­ray is the es­sen­tial link at scrumhalf. Plenty of X-fac­tor from An­drew Con­way and Si­mon Zebo. COACH’S COR­NER: Mun­ster, know­ing it all be­gins up front, looked to South Africa again when Rassie Eras­mus left, bring­ing in for­mer South Africa for­wards coach Jo­han van Graan. The es­sen­tial Mun­ster in­gre­di­ent is pro­vided by backs coach Felix Jones and for­wards coach Jerry Flan­nery.

Es­sen­tial link: Conor Mur­ray

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