Munster face old foes in Ospreys

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan believes the battle at set-piece time with the Ospreys this weekend will decide whether the province can make it through to the Magners League Grand Final at the end of the month.

MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan believes the battle at set-piece time with the Ospreys this weekend will decide whether the province can make it through to the Magners League Grand Final at the end of the month.

Munster will hope to break a four-game losing run in big semi-finals when McGahan’s table toppers face the Ospreys in Saturday’s showdown at Thomond Park (6.30pm).

In recent seasons, Munster have lost two Heineken Cup semi-finals, as well as a Magners League semi-final and, most recently of all, a surprising last four Amlin Challenge Cup last four clash with Harlequins

Saturday’s semi-final will be the fifth meeting between the sides this season and memories of the Welsh side doing a number on the Munster scrum in the Heineken Cup in December remains fresh in the minds of the Irish province’s supporters even though Tony McGahan’s men gained part compensation with their gritty Magners League victory at the Liberty Stadium over Easter. But the stakes are higher on Saturday. There is no second chance, no game next weekend, this time round.

Munster coach Tony McGahan said: “The set-piece is where the game (Ospreys) will be won. I think the encounters this season against the Ospreys proved they are a very strong set-piece side. Saturday is going to come down to that as all semi-finals and big games do.

“We have selection decisions to make right across the park for next year, to be honest. A lot of players put their hands up (against Connacht). Saturday’s game is a winner-take-all, there are no second chances. We are at the end of the season.

“The Ospreys are a good side. This is going to be our fifth meeting this year. We know each other well enough and that is always a difficult point. When you have two sides who know each other well and they have been very competitive every game so far this year, it will again depend on small margins and making sure you are getting on the front foot and continuing to knock away the breakdown defence area.

“After Harlequins, it had been a tough week for everyone concerned. I thought the players had a really dogged display about them against Connacht and they hung in there.”

Tickets for Munster’s semi-final play-off with the Ospreys are available from the following sources: Thomond Park ticket office on (061) 61421103, Gleeson Sport Scene, 25 Upper William St, the Munster Rugby Store in O’Connell Street or from www.munsterrugby.ie/fans/tickets.php, and Ticketmaster.

Sean Holley is hoping his inconsistent Ospreys side can rise to the challenge. Holley said “I think the boys will relish it,” he said.

“Munster and Thomond Park is a difficult place to go, the crowd is big and right behind them and they have got big game players.

We recognise we are not in great form going in, but the shackles are off now.”

Munster v Ospreys

Date: Saturday, May 14

Venue: Thomond Park

On TV: RTE, 6.30pm

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Odds: Munster 1/3, Ospreys 10/3