Munster face Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in what will be the province’s first real test this season.
Munster and Ospreys go into the tie with different starts to their respective season, with Muster brushing aside Treviso and The Cheetahs comfortably on their way to two bonus point victories to whilst their welsh counterparts have had a mixed start following a 22-13 win over Zebre and a 33-10 loss to Glasgow last weekend.
Not necessarily contrasting starts but Erasmus’ men have definitely looked more impressive. The province go into the game off the back of an extremely good away record in the league having won 8 out of 8 on the road since losing to Leinster at the Aviva last season. The stats don’t make for good reading when it comes to Ospreys home record either, with the Swansea outfit on winning 2 out of their last eight home fixture.
Alex Wooton has scored five tries in two games already this season and is on top of the pile in terms of statistics for the province. The former Irish under 20 winger starts again on saturday and will be looking to further improve his tally this season after such a blistering start.
However, he faces his first real test of the season against another young star who is quickly making a name for himself in Welsh rugby circles, Keelan Giles. The flying winger is a regular in this Ospreys side and has toured with Wales in both of their last summer trips to New Zealand and Tonga and Samoa this year and is still only 19.
The last times the two sides met was at the semi-final stage of the Guinness Pro 12 in April this year where Munster came away winners on a scoreline of 23-3 that day. Only three players have survived the starting team that day in Andrew Conway, Billy Holland and Captain Tyler Bleyendaal but it by no means necessary it’s a weaker team Eramus has put out with the likes of new recruit Chris Farrell and Jean Kleyn fitting back into the side seamlessly.
Ospreys too have a much changed side from the semi-final defeat but have some key players returning that will definitely add to an already promising XV. Flanker Dan Lydiate returns after 10 months out due to injury and the 2013 Lions tourist starts from the bench but if Steve Tandy decides to spring him from the subs he will be a real thorn in the side for Munster at the breakdown and in attack. Veteran Welsh star James Hook also returns to play a starting role this week after being left on the bench in their loss to the Glasgow Warriors last week.
On paper most would see Munster a favourites going into the tie given early season form, but as most now form counts for nothing if you can’t back it up when you really need to perform. Ospreys will be looking to bounce back after a heavy defeat last Saturday so will definitely pose a huge challenge for the province, either way this Conference A clash will surely be a tight one with maybe a score or two separating the sides.