The 10-10 draw which took place when Munster and the Exeter Chiefs faced off at Sandy Park in the opening round of the Champions Cup was like a Test match in everything but name.
The physicality and intensity in which both sets of players went about their business was gripping viewing and supporters should be in for a treat when these two teams face off against each other at Thomond Park on Saturday.
The English side have come from nowhere to still have an opportunity of topping the group going into the final round. Their impressive dismantling of Castres last time out indicates that Rob Baxter’s men will come to the famous Limerick venue with real belief that they can cause an upset.
For Munster, they will be hoping to have talismanic skipper Peter O’Mahony available for that clash but as head coach Johann van Graan described yesterday, his chances are “50-50” but he is confident that other players in his squad can successfully deputise if called upon.
One player who remembers that brutal day on the south coast of England is Jean Kleyn. One of Munster’s go-to-guys to provide physicality and energy, the 25-year-old is under no illusions to the challenge that awaits him and his teammates in what he thinks will be a “massive battle”.
“It’s going to be a massive battle,” Kleyn told the media on Monday.
“Like you said, there’s a lot on the line for both teams. Once again, we are focussed on our own setup. It’s going to be massive for us, obviously, we want to keep to winning ways.
“It’s going to be a real attritional battle. The game at Sandy Park was 80 minutes of hell, it was really, really tough. I expect this weekend is going to be very much the same.”
The Chiefs are currently leading the way in the Gallagher Premiership. Four points ahead of second-placed Saracens, they have the best try-scoring record in the league with 50 and the least amount of tries conceded with 22.
“They’re an exceptional attacking setup, we know this from their Premiership stats, they’re the highest try scoring team and defensively they’ve also conceded the least amount of tries,” Kleyn replied when quizzed on Exeter’s threats.
“They’re very strong on both attack and defence. Their setpiece is stong, their kicking game is good, they’re a very well-rounded side with a lot of threats. We’ll have to be at our best if we want to take them to task on it.”
For Munster, a win will guarantee them top spot in the pool while a bonus-point win could help them achieve a home quarter-final if other results go their way.