Munster make the trip to Kingsholm to take on Gloucester on Friday night (KO 7:45 pm) in the hope of securing a vital away victory which would set them up nicely to top Pool 2 ahead of their final clash at home to the Exeter Chiefs next weekend.
The first fixture between these two sides at Thomond Park back in October resulted in a bonus-point win for Munster but the manner in which that result came about rested heavily on the red card Danny Cipriani received in the first half.
A tougher and closer encounter awaits in Kingsholm but former Leinster coach Matt Williams believes that Munster should have enough in their locker to get the job done.
“At Kingsholm, it’s a very intimidating place so they’ll have to be on their toes,” Williams told Pundit Arena.
“But you look across that Gloucester side and it doesn’t really scream class at you in most areas across the whole squad. Munster will look to dominate them. Who has the better halves? Munster. Who has the better back-row? Munster. Centres you would say it’s pretty close but Munster. Wings? Munster.
“Where are they going to find the ability to take Munster apart? In the European cup, away games, even in dead rubbers – are never easy. You can’t see where Gloucester are going to get the points on the board to beat Munster.”
Williams has been impressed with Munster’s form in recent weeks, especially over the festive period and believes that the return of Chris Farrell and Conor Murray in addition to the excellent form of other members of the squad should lead to victory on Friday night.
“I think Munster are progressing quite well. They’re moving along. They got Conor Murray back, obviously Chris Farrell back as well. They’ve moved their whole team along in the last segment of the season since December. Joey Carbery has fitted in, [Andrew] Conway is in good form, [Keith] Earls is in good form, [Mike] Haley at fullback. See the back row, [Peter] O’Mahony, [Tommy] O’Donnell and [CJ] Stander – very well balanced. [Tadhg] Beirne and [Jean] Kleyn have done well and their front-row at times has been dominant.
“Tonight is still going to be a test for [Niall] Scannell – can he throw that ball in straight under severe pressure. But generally speaking, that team has moved forward. I really don’t believe that Gloucester are world beaters. They’re an ok side and they have definitely improved with ‘Humphs’ and Ackermann there, there are no two ways about that. They showed a lot of courage in Limerick but I still think Munster will be way too strong for them.”
Virgin Media One today announced live coverage of Munster’s decisive final Pool 2 Heineken Champions Cup fixture against Exeter Chiefs in Thomond Park on Saturday January 19th, in addition to this weekend’s epic clash between Leinster and Toulouse.
Live Heineken Champions Cup rugby returns to free-to-air television on Virgin Media One tomorrow, Saturday, January 12that 12.30pm when European champions Leinster take on four-time winners Toulouse in a mouth-watering tie at the RDS. The French giants defeated Leinster when the sides met in October – but victory in Dublin will put Leo Cullen’s men on course for a place in the quarter-finals.
Leinster v Toulouse live on Virgin Media One, this Saturday 12th January at 12.30pm.
Heineken Champions Cup Rugby Highlights will air on Virgin Media One on Saturday 12th January at 10.30pm.
Munster v Exeter Chiefs live on Virgin Media One, Saturday 19th January at 5.00pm=
Heineken Champions Cup Rugby Highlights will air on Virgin Media One on Sunday 20th January at 10.10pm.