Munster are ready for lift-off in another European semi-final

Munster are ready for lift-off in another European semi-final
Conor Oliver and Simon Zebo at training this week. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

MUNSTER must learn from mistakes made in last year’s Champions Cup semi-final defeat if they are to go one better in Bordeaux on Sunday.

Second row Billy Holland says they must take every opportunity they can and make sure they don’t give Racing 92 any soft scores or penalties.

“Opportunities are so much smaller and so much harder to come by and it’s the small things that win or lose the game. Think back to the game last year, for 65 minutes of the game against Saracens, we were 6-3 down and had been for about 40 minutes.

“We conceded a penalty from a scrum and they scored a try a few minutes later and the momentum shifted. We didn’t have the power or fitness to come back from it, so hopefully we’ve learned from that.”

The Cork man dismisses the notion that Racing won’t last the pace of the game on Sunday and says they will present a huge physical challenge for the Munster forwards in particular.

“You look at the eight guys they’re bringing off the bench. I think in that game at Thomond Park they brought on a guy who is 140 kilos (22 stone) and a fella who is 155 kilos (24 stone).

“We’re bringing on quality players... Jack O’Donoghue came on that day, and he’s maybe 110 kilos (17 stone). It’s momentum.

“They had momentum at that part of the game and they certainly have finished stronger.”

Munster’s Billy Holland. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr
Munster’s Billy Holland. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr

Munster already faced their French opponents earlier in the campaign. Holland believes they’ve improved across the campaign.

“I think it’s an ill-founded perception that Irish teams are a lot fitter than French teams.

“I think they’ve improved massively. They have such power and mass that it probably takes more out of you, and I think Racing have probably got fitter as the season has gone on.”

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