If resentment and a sense of grievance counts for owt, as they’d say in these parts, then Northampton Saints should win by the proverbial country mile in the clash later today in Milton Keynes
The utterances of their coach Jim Mallinder in the aftermath of the opening round Thomond Park Stadium defeat left few in any doubt that he felt an awful wrong had been perpetrated on the side who collapsed in the second half of last year's final and time hasn't, it seems, caused him to think differently. “Unfortunately there were a couple of decisions that didn't go our way and we didn't get the result we wanted.” he's quoted as saying in today's Irish Times (John O'Sullivan) of that game in November.
And it would appear that the day of retribution has arrived for Mallinder. “We are at stadium:mk, it's a packed house and we will be looking to get our own back.”
They can't really 'get their own back' in this competition because whatever transpires this evening, they're out before a ball is kicked. After that November defeat in Limerick they bombed at home against Scarlets. And against Castres so that by the time they got their own back against the Welsh side they were already directing their European ambitions Amlin direction.
It stll makes them a hugely difficult opponent this evening even despite the absence of the injured Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood and nose out of joint Chris Ashton.
But whatever the perceived difficulties and whatever the resentments harboured, Munster know that the prize of a home quarter final lies in their own hands.
Northampton Saints: B Foden; J Elliott, G Pisi, J Downey, V Artemyez; R Lamb, L Dickson; S Tonga'uiha, D Hartley (capt), B Mujati; S Manoa, M Sorsenson; C Clarke, P Dowson, R Wilson. Replacements: B Sharman, A Waller, P Doran Jones, C Day, B Nutley, M Roberts, S Meyler, S Armstrong.
Munster: D Hurley; J Murphy, K Earls, L Mafi, S Zebo; R O'Gara, C Murray; W du Preez, D Varley, BJ Botha; P O'Connell (capt), Donncha O'Callaghan; D Ryan, P O'Mahony, J Coughlan. Replacements: D Fogarty, M Horan, S Archer, M O'Driscoll, Dave O'Callaghan, T O'Leary, I Keatley, D Barnes.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)