MUNSTER won’t be reading too much into Ospreys’ recent form says Munster centre Rory Scannell.
With half backs as dangerous as Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar, they possess a huge threat and shutting their chances down will be key to the Reds getting to the PRO12 final at the Aviva.
Munster have played the Welsh region twice so far this season and beaten them but those results will count for nothing as Ospreys will have all their international contingent on the pitch on Saturday making them a totally different proposition.
“They’re in the semi-final so they have had a good season overall,” says Scannell.
“Every time we play them we find them tough opposition. We played them during the two international windows this season so they were missing a lot of their key international players.
"We just snatched a win away there during the Six Nations so they are a massive threat.
"They are a great attacking side and they have some quality players. It’ll be very tough. Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar are obviously massive threats.
"They have been unbelievable for Ospreys and Wales the last few years so if we can shut them down we have a pretty good chance. They have threats all over the field, a lot of international players.
"Webb and Biggar are probably their key men. Look, they have had a dip. They were unlucky in losing to Leinster to a last-minute kick but they are obviously a quality side.
"They are in the semi-final. I don’t think they’ll be looking too closely at their recent form.”
Scannell says that the win over Connacht, which saw them claim a home semi-final is massive for the club and the Reds will want to sign off at Thomond Park with a win.
He says they haven’t even contemplated losing a second semi-final in the season.
“It’s massive. Getting any advantage you can is great.
"It’s been a good season as a squad but we were very disappointed with the Saracens game.
"We didn’t show up on the day so hopefully, we won’t lose two this year. We reviewed it quite a bit. We know what we did wrong and why we didn’t come close to beating them.
“In those games against the top teams in Europe you are going to get three or four chances to put away a try and we didn’t put them away.
"After 50 minutes there was only three points in it and we’d had a few chances to score more before that and we didn’t.
"Saracens were clinical. When they got the chances to score they took them and that’s the difference at that stage of the season. We’ll try to back ourselves in the PRO12 semi. We’ll have to take them.”
To be able to finish those chances, Munster first have to create them and Scannell says that lessons have been learned from the European semi-final loss to Saracens and that Munster will take their chances when presented next Saturday evening.
“I think we were a bit conservative in our attack. When we got those chances in their 22 we didn’t take them and that’s the main thing we really learned from that game.
"It’s the same thing when you play the likes of Ospreys, Scarlets or Leinster. You have to take those chances.
“Last year, as a young guy coming in to the team you are maybe more nervous about trying things and as you get a bit more experience you feel a bit more confident and you try a few more things - that extra pass, kick, whatever it may be.
“I can add to my game a bit more. We have a lot of dangerous backs and hopefully I can look to put a few of those guys away in the next few games. I had quite a solid defensive season last year but I have looked to build on that attacking side of my game as well.”
Scannell has also had to mix and match who he has played with in the middle of the backline with Jaco Taute and Francis Saili having a ding dong battle for the number 13 jersey.
“We have all played quote a bit this year and there has been mixing and matching, which has been great. We have plenty of options in that midfield area. Keats (Ian Keatley) had a man of the match performance (against Connacht) and Tyler has done well all year. Francis is playing quite well the last few weeks and Jaco has been very good all season so we can mix and match that for the end of the season.”
Scannell says that the players are playing to the potential that Axel Foley could see in them and that the players have dedicated their performances to him.
“Obviously we miss him a lot. We’ve kind of dedicated our performances to him. It’s obviously staying with us. I think we’re playing quite well for him and he’d be proud of us. I think he was a bit frustrated because he knew how good we can be.
“We’ve actually shown it this season whereas last season, as I’ve said, we were a young side and maybe a bit afraid to show how good we are. We’re going well and that’s what he was looking for the whole time.
"We’re playing for him, really,” said the Munster centre.