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 McGahanâ€™s table toppers face the Ospreys in Saturdayâ€™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
Saturdayâ€™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 provinceâ€™s supporters even though Tony McGahanâ€™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: â€œThe 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.
â€œWe 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). Saturdayâ€™s game is a winner-take-all, there are no second chances. We are at the end of the season.
â€œThe 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.
â€œAfter 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.â€
Tickets for Munsterâ€™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 Oâ€™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 â€œI think the boys will relish it,â€ he said.
â€œMunster 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.â€
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