Munster have measure of Connacht

Munster’s Peter O’Mahony flies high to win the lineout in the recent Lions clash in Johannesburg. Photo: Shaun Roy.

MUNSTER’S form has been so impressive since the turn of the year that getting the better of Connacht at Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off, 5.15pm) would appear to be surmountable.

Two bonus-point victories in South Africa and with nine league points between the sides in this entertaining URC competition, another victory for the home side seems on the cards.

On the other hand, Connacht have won nine of their games and Munster’s recorded 10 would indicate that the Westerners will not roll over easily. Recent wins against the Dragons away, 27-34, and a 54-16 win over Zebre at home indicate that they are well and truly awake.

This league has now entered a fascinating phase, with every game in the last three rounds of significant interest.

Munster’s play-off qualification is in their own hands (currently third behind Glasgow Warriors and Leinster), and Graham Rowntree’s side will not want to slip up at this crucial stage.

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Connancht, who recently announced the signing of former Ulster hooker Adam McBurney from Edinburgh, will see this visit to Limerick as an opportunity to rescue their season. The venue will provide familiarity for Conor Oliver and the in-form JJ Hanrahan, both having trodden its historic surface in the red jersey on many occasions.

With the playing conditions likely to be suitable for the running game, centres Bundee Aki and Tom Farrell will certainly test the home defence, while Munster will also have to keep an eye on Academy scrum-half Mathew Devine who has made a name for himself in recent weeks.

It promises to be a fascinating contest, and if the match day squad chosen by Graham Rountree is similar to recent successes, Munster’s winning streak is likely to continue. The unavailability of back-rowJohn Hodnett is an obvious loss.

After the weekend, Munster travel to Edinburgh (on 43 points) and finish with a home tie against Ulster (44), both of whom are fighting to qualify for the last eight.