Visit of Cardiff in URC

Seán O'Brien scores his side's third try during the United Rugby Championship match between Ospreys and Munster at the Stadium in Swansea. Photo: Gruffydd Thomas.

ONCE the doyens of home nations rugby, Welsh teams continue to struggle.

Seasons 1995/’96 saw the launch of the Heineken Cup and the following season Munster lost to Cardiff 18 to 48. The sides were drawn again in 1997/’98 and it was Cardiff who won both fixtures, piling up results of 23-43 and 32-37.

Those were the halcyon days when we admired the Blues after reaching the inaugural final of the Cup but losing to Toulouse 18-21 after extra time.

A Welsh team has never lifted the European trophy and the chances of current successes seem dim. But there is hope in the Valleys and Cardiff coach Matt Sherratt took some sustenance from his side’s defeat by Glasgow at the weekend.

“It’s almost a bitter sweet one because we had chances to win it. We got pushed into touch twice five metres from their line and we were held up twice over the line. We are the first team in the league this season to get a point at Glasgow away, which makes it nine bonus points for us so far, so all credit to our players,” said Sherratt.

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Saturday night, Thomond Park, 7.35 pm kick-off, big crowd spells home victory and not reaping another bonus point for a Munster team that is seriously threatening to achieve more glorious success by the end of this season, is not on the cards.

On Friday against the Ospreys Graham Rowntree’s side were tested but when asked to put in some serious defensive work they did not shirk. The stats were interesting with the Ospreys enjoying the bulk of territory (59%) and 62 % possession, only to come away empty handed.

It was a game where good fortune fell in the way of the Irish side highlighted by a golden try chance and a bonus point for the Ospreys when Alex Cuthbert pulled his hamstring with the whitewash within touching distance.

Munster captain Alex Kendellen described it as “our biggest game of the season so far. It’s a tight league so it’s good to get the five points.”