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Munster Looking To Create Momentum

January 7, 2011 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

While the points on offer will be what concentrates Munster’s minds most in the Musgrave Park clash with Glasgow Warriors, they will also be keen to create momentum ahead of the break from the Magners and the huge European challenge that looms.

Consistency in performance is probably something they are striving for but the difficulty they have in achieving that is probably best gauged by the fact that with injury, national obligation and suspenion, they've had in the region of 37 changes in personnel over the past four games.

The plan would have been that this game would have allowed Paul O'Connell and Jerry Flannery press their claim for inclusion in the selection process for the upcoming Heineken Cup games, but unfortunately suspension in the former and continued injury problems in the latter case have scuppered those plans. 

However, Munster must press on.They're in top spot in the Magners nine points clear of the chasing pack and the absence of O'Connell and Flannery is compensated for by the rich vein of form Damien Varley (pictured above) and Mick O'Driscoll are in.

And whatever about the perceived problems they are experiencing up front it says a lot about this squad that they have created such a gap as leaders at this stage of the season.

For their part, Warriors arrive in Musgrave Park looking for their first away win of the season but it should be remarked that two of their defeats on the road were by narrow margins, two and four points respectively in Ravenhill and Parc Y Scarlets.

They have quality players in the likes Bernardo Stortoni, Max Evans, Alastair Kellock and John Barclay and if allowed get into their stride can be a hard side to stop. They also welcome back John Beattie, who has been out with a shoulder injury since he returned from Scotland's historic Test series win in Argentina last summer, and the influential Scotland number 8 will ask serious questions of the Munster defence. 

Again the good news with that regard is that the Munster defence has been impressive this season and they can boast the best record in that area with just 13 tries conceded in 12 Magners games played.

Speaking after training in Thomond Park Stadium yesterday Tony McGahan's focus was totally fixed on this game rather than a week hence as illustrated when asked if this side was picked with a view to the Toulon game. “The selection was made very much with Glasgow Warriors in mind. It would be disrespectful to our opponents and to the competition itself if we allowed ourselves be distracted. Of course, selections have to be made mindful of what lies ahead but the task in hand is Warriors. We'll deal with next week once this one is over.”

Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, L Mafi, J Murphy; R O’Gara, P Stringer; D Hurley, D Varley, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll, J Coughlan, D Wallace, D Leamy capt. Replacements: M Sherry, D Kilcoyne, P Borlase, D Ryan, N Ronan, T O’Leary, S Tuitupou, D Hurley.

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Munster Dig Deep

January 9, 2011 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Munster maintained their impressive Magners League form with a gutsy 22-20 win over Glasgow Warriors in front of a near 7000 crowd at Musgrave Park on Saturday night.

With seventeen points from the boot of Ronan O'Gara, it was a victory that leaves them nine points clear at the top of the table as the competition makes way for the concluding Pool stages of the Heineken Cup.

As Man of the Match Donncha O'Callaghan readily admitted afterwards it wasn't a pretty performance, but there was much to admire about how Munster reacted after they'd conceded tries at crucial stages.

First time was when the game was tied three points apiece as half time approached and Munster concentration lapsed allowing Colin Gregor in under the posts for a seven pointer and a 10-3 interval lead.

Immediately from the restart Munster set out their stall in the area of the Glasgow 22 and cometh the moment cometh the man and besides Damien Varley, Paul Warwick, Denis Hurley, Mick O'Driscoll,  that man was O'Gara who kicked three from three in the space of seven minutes to edge his side in front.

It got even better when David Wallace was rumbled over and O'Gara's conversion put nine points between the sides.

However right from the off, Warriors had signaled their intent and they responded in the best possible way with their second try just three minutes after that, DTH Van Der Merwe scooting over out wide and then running it in under the posts to leave Ruaridh Jackson with a simple conversion.

Then just to put it up to the League leaders, Jackson slammed over a drop goal to put the visitors in front.

In response, Munster launched a fierce onslaught, and after a series of forward drives, the ball was spread wide.

A try in the Dolphin corner looked odds on until Bernardo Stortoni deliberately knocked on a scoring pass.

Referee James Jones, booed-off at the end of the opening half, consulted his assistant referee before brandishing a yellow card for the Argentinean and then with the crowd baying for a penalty try, awarded simply a penalty.

A penalty five metres from the touchline.

The smart money of the on-looking mortals called for a kick to touch, a five metre line-out and forward drive for the precious score.

O'Gara though, is no mere mortal.

His thought process contemplated nothing more than the kicking tee.

Five metres in from the touchline, nerveless, sweet strike. Another three points, his seventeenth of the night.

It's what sets him apart.

Munster: P Warwick; D Hurley, K Earls, L Mafi, J Murphy; R O'Gara, P Stringer (O'Leary 62 mins); D Hurley, D Varley, J Hayes (Borlase 44 mins ); D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll, J Coughlan (Ryan 62 mins), D Wallace (Ronan 67 mins), D Leamy capt.

Glasgow Warriors: B Stortoni; A Dunbar, M Evans, P Murchie, DTH Van Der Merwe; R Jackson, C Gregor; R Grant, D Hall, M Low; R Gray, A Kellock capt; R Harley, J Barclay, J Beattie. Replacements: P McArthur, K Tkackuk, J Welash, A Muldowney, R Wilson, H Pyrgos, D McCall, P Horne.

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