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Munster Hope To Bridge Gap To Glasgow

9th February 2018 By The Editor

Niall Scannell in action against Ospreys in September

Munster will be hoping to close the gap on Conference A leaders Glasgow Warriors this weekend as Zebre visit Thomond Park on Saturday night (7.35pm).

Munster will be hoping to close the gap on Conference A leaders Glasgow Warriors this weekend as Zebre visit Thomond Park on Saturday night (7.35pm).

The current gap between the sides stands at 15 points but if results go Munster’s way, that could be cut to 10 points following this weekend as Glasgow travel to the Dragons tonight.

Munster’s home form is excellent and the province have lost just once in their last 15 games in Cork and Limerick while Zebre go into the game on a high having won their most recent encounter 38-30 at home to Top 14 side Agen in round 6 of the Challenge Cup.

Recent fixtures between the sides have gone the way of Saturday night’s hosts but it was by no means plain sailing when the sides met in Parma at the end of November.

While Munster secured a bonus-point 36-19 win, they needed to dig deep after a fierce comeback from the hosts before half-time.

Despite leading 17-0 after half an hour thanks to tries from James Hart and Rory Scannell, two Zebre tries before the break reduced the margin to just three points at the interval.

Two yellow cards in that period also saw Munster reduced to 13 men but they recovered well after the break. The bonus-point win was secured by the hour as Alex Wootton crossed twice before Calvin Nash touched down in the last play with JJ Hanrahan kicking four conversions and a penalty in the victory.

Ireland international Niall Scannell is in line to start on Saturday night for the first time since sustaining an injury on New Year’s Day and the hooker is expecting a difficult encounter.

“I’m hugely looking forward to getting back into the swing of it,” said Scannell. “Obviously, I haven’t had a lot of game time, but specifically on Zebre it’s great for me because they will be massively physically, they’ll have a huge scrum, so hopefully I can put my best foot forward there.

“We are probably expecting more of the same – that off-loading game they are playing, running from everywhere, and that huge physicality you are always going to get off them. It’s a huge game for me – it’s a good challenge, and we are looking forward to it. We will certainly be expecting a big challenge around the scrum, which as I said earlier is massive for my game as well. Fingers crossed we get a result.”

Next game

Guinness PRO14: Munster v Zebre, Thomond Park, Sat. 10 Feb, 7.35pm; Tickets available online, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, or by calling 061 421103. Tickets from just €7 with Family packs (two adults and two children) available for just €40.

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