In the midst of the Six Nations, Munster welcomed the Scarlets to Thomond Park in the Guinness Pro 12. Both sides were without a host of internationals due to the tournament and Munster were seen as heavy favourites.
Heading into the game, Munster had won 14 of their previous 15, with their only reversal coming against Leicester in the Champions Cup.
Munster started the game well and all was going to plan as the sides entered the dressing rooms at the half. Munster led 21-6 and looked in complete control of the game. However, the Welsh side blitzed their hosts after the break and scored 24 unanswered points in the second period to secure a famous 21-30 victory in Limerick.
In the semi finals last weekend, Scarlets showed once again how devastating they can be, overcoming Leinster in the RDS 27-15 in a brutal display of attacking class. The following evening Munster turned over the Ospreys to set up a final clash this Saturday.
Speaking ahead of the final, Rassie Erasmus has insisted his side will be aware of the dangers that the Scarelts impose, and that his side will have learned from the loss in Thomond back in February.
“When we were 21 – 6 up, I must take half of the blame because we didn’t talk too much sense at half-time,I wouldn’t say arrogance, but when you’re 21 – 6 up, sometimes you say the stupidest things where you have seen what you did right and did wrong in the first half… everybody makes mistakes and we said some wrong things at half-time at 21 – 6.
“That wind that we played with in the first half was much stronger than the 21-6 we were up. We had actually to change our tactics which we didn’t, which was obviously half our fault.”
“They got three tries in eight or 10 minutes. It happened to Leinster this weekend, they got two tries a matter of five, six minutes, you know? In that game we really got back into it, got into scoring positions. It wasn’t as if we got all stuck, and ‘what are we going to do next?’
“They just really defended well and turned us over at the breakdown really well. As I said a few times it is only the Cardiff and the Leinster away game that’s been embarrassing in a sense that we didn’t try to find a way (back into the game). In that specific game we did find ways, we just couldn’t finish it.”
A lot has been made of the impact that the Saracens loss has had on this Munster side and how much they’ve improved since. However, Scarlets faced the European Champions twice and will have learned their own lessons from the standard bearers.
“Scarlets are a complete team. I think, because they’ve played Saracens twice. A lot of teams learn a lot after you play Saracens. I think their gameplan changed a little bit after they played Saracens twice. Hopefully we can also use that.
I think we play very similarly. Scarlets, I think, have the second most runs in the competition and a lot of kicking. They changed it from the first few games they play. Tactically a well-coached team and you can see they’re on a run of unbelievable results.
“After they beat us here, they went and got a good smack off Leinster (45 – 9). Then now they go and beat Leinster with 14 men. They’ve changed their tactics through the season.
“We’ll stick to our guns. We only know one way to play which has worked for us.”
The wait is nearly over.