MUNSTER’S hopes of progressing to the knock-ut stages of the European Cup for the 16th time in 17 seasons is hanging on a knife edge after Clermont Auvergne stunned Anthony Foley’s side at Thomond Park on Saturday night.
Munster dropped to third place in Pool 1 after Clermont became the first French side to win in Limerick at the 24th attempt with a physically powerful display.
Munster face a trip to the intimidating Stade Marcel Michelin for the second of the two back-to-back fixtures with the Top 14 high flyers on Sunday next, 3.15pm Irish time. Defeat this weekend would effectively end Munster’s hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals.
Munster head coach Anthony Foley insisted the side were far from giving up on their hopes of making the quarter-finals of the inaugural European Champions Cup, despite Clermont’s excellent home record.
Foley said: “I think we can turn it around. We’re not going to throw in any towel. We’ll give it our best shot and make sure we stay fighting.
“We’ve got to stay true to the badge we wear and make sure we turn up next week. It’s not a great feeling at the moment in the Munster camp so we need to rectify that.
“We went into this thinking it was a 160-minute game (with back-to-back fixtures). We’re at half-time now and we need to see where the first-half has gone wrong for us.
“We’re 4-1 down on points and we need to win this tie. We need to make sure we go over there and give a performance that’s worthy of the jersey.
“It’s an unbelievably hard place to go. I’ve played there a couple of times. The crowd will be in behind them, similar to what you expect when you come to Thomond Park as an away side.
“Our crowd was in the game today but unfortunately we couldn’t aid them in getting a better performance out of ourselves.”
Munster will hope that the leg injury sustained by prop Dave Kilcoyne and Gerhard van den Heever’s knee injury, both picked up in Saturday’s game, does not ultimately rule them out of Sunday’s return leg. Munster may also have Robin Copeland and Andrew Smith back from injury.