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By Darraghgirl
December 4 2019

  After a brief one week hiatus for the Premiership, we return to European Competition for the next two weeks with a double header against Munster. There has been much speculation about what sort of team we will put out but doubtless Mark McCall has all this set out on his spreadsheet!  

The bottom line is that Saracens are the defending European Champions and whatever happens, we aren’t going to surrender our crown lightly! Realistically, the most likely route to Champions League rugby next season is by retaining the trophy – however if that comes at the cost of Premiership survival we lose everything!

So this weekend is important. Munster are 2 points ahead of us having played the same 2 teams we have played, but the other way around (Ospreys away, Racing at home). Let’s consider the most likely scenario. If we assume Racing will probably win the group (can we assume anything with the French?) then we need to be 2 points better than Munster in the remaining 4 games, come out better in the head-to-head and accrue enough points to be one of the 3 best runners-up which on previous season’s form is 19 although 16 was enough in 2016-17. Anything else, and barring something extraordinary happening to Racing (and strange things do happen) our European Champions Cup ambitions are over for this year (and almost certainly next!)

So are you still with me? What this means is that it is still all to play for! So I expect that we will send a strong team to Limerick not just because we should still be looking to qualify for the knock-out stages, but also because the lads have made it clear they want to play for the club and they want to defend their European crown.

The last 2 games between the 2 teams have been European semi-finals – 2017 in Dublin and 2019 in Coventry – both of which Saracens won so Munster will be looking to get their own back on the men from North London..

The game is certainly in high demand as Munster have installed additional pitch-side seating at Thomond Park taking capacity up to 26,267. I suspect they will have tried their previous trick of allocating Saracens tickets all over the place rather than in a bloc together. According to the Munster website, Jeremy Loughman, Joey Carbery, Tyler Bleyendaal, Chris Cloete, Dave Kilcoyne, Ciaran Parker & Darren Sweetnam are all out with injury. Jed Holloway has returned home. Munster lost at home to Edinburgh last weekend when a weakened team succumbed to the Scots. Most of the first 15 had their feet up! Of the team that secured a last gasp draw at home to Racing, only Jack O’Donoghue started against Edinburgh (with JJ Hanrahan & Rory Scannell coming off the bench). I suspect we will see something closer to the team which played Racing on Saturday! With injuries to Carbery and Bleyendaal though, Munster are a bit vulnerable at fly-half should anything happen to JJ Hanrahan.

So Munster may line up something like:- Haley, Conway, Farrell, R Scannell, Earls, Hanrahan, Murray, Cronin, N Scannell, Ryan, Kleyn, Beirne, O’Mahony, O’Donaghue, Stander.

As for Saracens, I would expect a strong team, something close to the team which won at Bath last Friday:- Daly, Maitland, Lozowski, Barritt, Lewington, Farrell, Spencer, M Vunipola, George, Ibuanokpe, itoje, Kruis, Wray, Earl, B Vunipola

The officials are French (Roman Poite ably assisted by Pierre Brousset and Vincent Blasco Baque, TMO Denis Grenouillet – which I think means little frog!)

Have a great weekend everyone who is travelling. We went out to Limerick at this time of year in 2012 and I still remember the warmth of the Irish – including green Santa hats and a bus driver who drove his bus way off route to our hotel so we didn’t get lost. On that occasion we were still Euro-newbies. It was a narrow defeat 15-9, if I remember correctly. Hopefully we can do even better this time.

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Discussion started by , 04/12/2019 13:31
04/12/2019 13:31
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2019:12:16:10:06:00 by Darraghgirl.

04/12/2019 18:03

I hope the frog can time his jumps so that he can see the replay screens!

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(*) As at October 31, 2018.

05/12/2019 06:36

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