Conceding tries rather than scoring remains Munster's big issue

Derek Daly looks ahead to Munster's URC clash with Stormers in South Africa on Saturday
Conceding tries rather than scoring remains Munster's big issue

Jack Crowley of Munster in action against Bongi Mbonambi of Cell C Sharks. Picture: Darren Stewart/Sportsfile

MUNSTER cannot be feeling sorry for themselves, following their European exit to the Sharks two weeks ago, when they rock up to face reigning URC champions the Stormers at Cape Town on Saturday.

There is simply too much on the line, with this year’s play-off berth and next year’s Champions Cup qualification still very much up in the air.


Munster supporters will be hopeful that there will be no repeat of last year, when Munster followed up on their Champions Cup exit, in the painful shootout loss to Toulouse, by effectively throwing their collective hat at what remained of their URC campaign.

That brilliant performance against Toulouse was followed up by a terrible one against what was built as effectively the Leinster C team a week later, as Munster lost 35-25 at the Aviva Stadium, and their season ended in the following game, the URC quarter-final against Ulster, with Johann van Graan’s last match in charge being lost by 36-17.

Munster were outpowered by the Sharks a fortnight ago and Niall Scannell and Romain Salanoa’s absences will do nothing to help Munster’s power deficiency up front, although the return of second-row Edwin Edogbo might help.

Edwin Edogbo is back available for Munster. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Edwin Edogbo is back available for Munster. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Young loose head Mark Donnelly and Irish U20 Grand Slam-winning hooker Danny Sheehan have also travelled as part of the squad. Munster fans love to see young players getting opportunities to wear the famous red jersey, but it would be a big ask to be thrown into a crucial away fixture against a fully loaded South African front row.

Munster got completely blown out of it at ruck time in their 50-35 defeat to the Sharks and you would expect that the Munster coaching team would have put particular emphasis on improving Munster’s efficiency in this area. There has obviously been an attempt to make Munster as expansive as possible in recent times, but pragmatism might have to be the order of the day here, with more bodies having to be committed to securing ball at every ruck.

The Munster attack has scored 16 tries in the last three games, which sounds wonderful until you note that they have shipped 18 in these same three games. 

Clearly that concession rate is completely unsustainable.

This crazy points-leaking rate has eroded away a lot of the confidence built up in the brilliant run since the victory over South Africa at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in November, which saw them lose to only Leinster and Toulouse in four months.

Travelling all the way back down to South Africa is obviously not ideal for the squad but at least they will be aware that the Stormers are in a similar boat themselves, as they have just returned from England after losing to the Exeter Chiefs in last weekend’s Champions Cup quarter-final.

With their hosts licking their wounds, possibly still recovering from the exertions of the past couple of weeks, and having already secured a play-off berth, Munster have the opportunity to catch them napping, but only if there is a huge improvement in their defence on Saturday.

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