MUNSTER go to France with the view of bringing everyone back to Thomond Park again for a home quarter final.
Last week I said O’Gara would be key and this week I stand by it. He may have not kicked to his absolute best from the kicking tee but his play throughout the game was exemplary. He’s a shoe in for the Lions number 10 jersey. To say that O’Gara was complimented by his fly half stand in, Paul Warwick, would be somewhat of an understatement as the Aussie was able to kick in tandem with the Irish out half.
The beauty of having two such talented players on the field at the same time is an embarrassment of riches. Both need to injury and illness free if this little plan is to stay working – at least while Tipoki is receiving treatment for his injured hamstring.
They were told to keep an eye on the back rows and the performance of Wallace, Leamy and the larcenist extrodinaire in Alan Quinlan were tantamount to that.
The pack’s huge display, both in defence and attack, was highlighted by the three tries scored by forwards with O’Connell, Flannery and Wallace all crossing the Sale try line.
Yes, I was wrong in suggesting a low scoring affair but at the chance of taking the win that was last week, I’ll gladly bow my head and admit defeat on that one. I’ll also admit defeat on backing Flannery at 22/1 for the first try and not taking the offer of some speculative bookies that had O’Connell at 33/1.
Nonetheless, we move to the old adage of who’s taking the horse to France? Answer quite simple is, we are. And the proud and Munster brave are in pole position to take on the win up front and possible bully another French side into submission.
Why? Because they can. Rugby is not as simple as that and don’t think for one minute that I’m suggesting that.
The Munster steam train is in full flight and the chink in the door was kicked open following a number of results going the province’s way.
Try scorer last weekend and Ireland Munster hooker, Jerry Flannery, knows that there was a lot involved in getting the train moving again.
“Last weekend was about getting some pride back into playing in Thomond Park. It’s the first step and we have another pool game this weekend and if we can go to France and get a result we’ll be well on our way to doing that.
Embarrassment was one word used by the players when looking back at the Ulster game, but from that a catalyst was born. The injection came and the result followed.
Ambition was another word used by the players, Flannery included and he is one of many of the Munster squad that is still, two Heineken cups aside, very ambitious.
Munster to win in Montauban, I’ll take that and this time I’ll take it by the narrowest of margins.