Munster easily dispatched the Leicester Tigers 38-0.
1. Darren Sweetnam is ready for to light up European rugby
Munster may have played with a simple game plan, but boy was it effective. Until his departure, Conor Murray launched characteristic bombs in the direction of Adam Thompstone and George Worth, with both players struggling to cope with the pressure applied by Sweetnam.
The Munster winger wasn’t just dangerous in the air, Sweetnam was brilliant with ball in hand. He ran with purpose, demonstrating his quick feet and offloading ability in the lead up Jaco Taute’s second try.
2. Conor Murray left Ben Youngs in the shade.
One of the most interesting sub-plots leading into this game was the battle between Conor Murray and Ben Youngs. Both scrum halves were brilliant during the Autumn series for Ireland and England respectively, and today’s tie was promoted as a British and Irish Lions trial.
On today’s evidence it’s advantage Murray, but there is a long way to go and their Six Nations clash will be a far greater indicator.
3. Munster’s Defence
Jacques Nienaber has worked wonders as Munster’s defence coach in such a short period. Lets not forget that Munster were opened up by a 14 man Stade Francais team on numerous occasions last season.
Connacht also tore the Reds to pieces in Galway as the westerners laid claim to the Pro12 title, leaving many Munster fans reeling.
Together with massive line speed, Nienaber has brought a great deal of physicality to Munster’s defence. They are also patient, identifying rucks to contest and those to step away from.
4. Munster’s Back Row
Last season Munster suffered from not being able to field their first choice back row weeks at a time. Although CJ Stander was available throughout, both Tommy O’Donnell and Peter O’Mahony were victims of Ireland’s World Cup campaign.
However with the trio now in place, Munster have a real physical edge in both defence and attack. Stander, O’Mahony and O’Donnell are all brilliant at the breakdown, winning turnovers with brute force and deploying the choke tackle to great effect.
5. What Of The Leicester Tigers?
Most observers believed Munster would win today, but few believed they would claim a four try bonus point or keep the Tigers to nil.
That is what transpired and Leicester will have to take a long hard look at themselves. They showed very little in attack, and outside of Lachlan McCaffrey, their back row was nowhere to be seen.
Yes Leicester were missing Dan Cole and Marcos Ayerza, but they were unable to match Munster upfront.
Indeed, they seemed totally unprepared for Conor Murray’s box kicks, letting balls bounce or offering little cover for the embattled Worth.
When Munster put the ball wide, the Tigers also seemed unable to deal with the pace of Sweetnam or Rory Scannell’s distribution.
It was a though Richard Cockerill and his coaching staff hadn’t watched Munster since their win over Glasgow.
This week on the Oval Office Podcast, we speak with Section Paloise number eight Paddy Butler, and hold an in depth conversation with Geraint Powell about what the future holds for regional rugby in Wales.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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