National Papers Pro 12 Final Preview Round Up.
If you didn’t know already (Which seems inconceivable), Munster take on the Scarlets in the Aviva tomorrow in the Guinnes Pro 12 final. After finishing top of the table in the regular season, Munster are slight favourites, but the Scarlets upset of Leinster last week will have Rassie Erasmus on alert of their capabilities. Ahead of the game we look at the views of some experts and where they feel the game will be won and loss.
In his column in The Irish Times, Liam Toland believes that the battle at the breakdown will decide the outcome of the game. He feels that Leinster were unable to cope with the ferocity that the Scarlets brought to the ruck.
Toland singled out the Scarlets opensides for their ability to disrupt at the breakdown and prevent quick ball for the Leinster side that scored 99 tries from 22 contests. They may not turnover the ball each time but delay everything and cause the opposition to lose momentum. However, the presence of Peter O’Mahony as well as a World Class scrum half behind the ruck may be enough to halt Scarlets game plan.
Writing in the Irish Examiner, former Leinster, Ireland and Lions winger, Shane Horgan feels that Munster are better equipped to defeat the Scarlets than Leinster were.
“For starters, Munster will certainly take some learnings from the Leinster game and from the experience of having played and lost to the Scarlets this season. They will have studied a lot of video from the last 10 weeks, in particular, and something evident from the Leinster game is that you need to carry first-up ball really strong and get over the gain line.
“I didn’t think Leinster carried the ball particularly well; they were occupied with going around the opposition and some of the line speed from Llanelli was very good, so Munster will have to come up with something to combat that.
“But Munster displayed some excellent things against Ospreys; they carried the ball very quickly over a number of phases. I think Munster will play the way that fits in quite well with what they have been doing this season. They will seek to get quick ruck ball after very strong carries from one of their back row. They just play in such a way as to make it very difficult for the opposition to get back into formation in their defensive line. Scarlets were able to do that, because of the way Leinster played last week.”
David Wallace, speaking in the Irish Independent, thinks Munster’s ability to defend will prove crucial in the final. Despite coasting to victory last week, they were determined not to let the Ospreys in for a consolation score. Munster’s work rate for each other could be the difference come the end of 80 minutes. He is wary of the threat that Lions Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies provide in broken play but is confident Munster have enough to curtail them.
Overall, the feeling around the press is that Munster will learn enough from their own loss earlier in the season to the Welsh side and from Leinster’s reversal to come away with the trophy in Dublin.