Stiff competition for Munster in Northampton

Peter O’Mahony gathering a lineout during Munster’s Easter Weekend clash with Cardiff. Photo: Brendan Moran.

MUNSTER will be looking to improve on their Easter Weekend performance on Sunday’s away fixture with Northampton Saints if Graham Rowntree’s side are to hang onto their European Cup ambition.

It took the class of Ireland internationals Tadhg Beirne and Jack Crowley to scrape out that victory against Cardiff and for most of the game the home team were pretty awful.

It was the out-half’s first try for Munster but he has certainly impressed this season. Post match, Rowntree said that “we were poor but we found a way to win, which pleases me”.

“We have lots to improve on for this huge game against Northampton next weekend.”

The late withdrawal of RG Snyman prevented the second row from getting his first start for Munster in Thomond Park since his arrival, but it is hoped that he will be ready to go for the trip to Franklin’s Gardens.

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The Beirne-Snyman second row pairing provides an awesome cog in Munster’s line-out and scrum and would certainly be of benefit.

Providing poor performances a week before big European games is not out of character for the southern province and there is little doubt that they will be well prepared.

Northampton boss Phil Dawson must feel confident and their 41-30 victory over Saracens has added to their explosive top of the table start to their Gallagher Premiership campaign.

The battle of the fly-halves at Saints is interesting with Fin Smith providing the final pass for three of his side’s five tries and kicking 16 points from the tee at the weekend.

Interestingly, if Munster and the Bulls win this weekend, the Irish province will have to travel to South Africa in the last eight.

Rowntree is sure to include Joey Carbery in the matchday squad which would give him some game time before he leaves for Bordeaux at the end of the season.
It is unlikely that there will be any major changes for Munster.

The side will be well prepared with a reliable back row of John Hodnett, Peter O’Mahony and Gavin Coombes and, on their day, a first class three-quarter line.

Kick-off is 12.30pm.