MUNSTER’S win against province rivals Leinster sets up a tantalising United Rugby Championship finale in Cape Town on Saturday, May 27.
This win is only the second one in the last dozen meetings between the two sides, and to put it into further perspective, Leo Cullen’s side had won 25 matches in front of a home crowd at the Aviva dating back to the defeat by Toulon in 2015.
For Munster to come away with a one-point victory and upset the European giants of Leinster is a remarkable feat given the season that they have had, but can they turn this winning momentum into silverware?
Pundits are calling the Limerick-based side the ‘villains’ of the URC as they have come away with away wins against Stormers, Glasgow Warriors, and Leinster, and earned a draw against Sharks.
These games are not easily won, and in the period of two weeks when Munster were forced to travel down to South Africa to play their closing fixtures of the regular season, their backs were against the wall, and winning performances were needed if they had any hope of getting further in the competition.
Against all odds they managed to make that a reality, and after being drawn to play Leinster in the semi-final, most people had written them off already.
But that’s what makes Munster such a special team, they go into games, such as the Leinster one for example, and come away with an incredible win that will be remembered in the history of the club for years to come.
To add fuel to their ever-growing fire, the last time Munster won a final was in 2011 in what was then known as the Magners League where they beat Leinster 19-9 at a packed Thomond Park.
Now, 12 years on, they face another huge task in trying to beat the Stormers in their home territory.
In the last meeting between the sides, Munster came away with a 26-24 win which began their change of fortune at the end of the season.
Stormers, though, are coming into this fixture as 2022 URC champions and are after beating Connacht 43-25 in the semi-final.
Although Munster did beat them in their most recent match-up, it’s clear Stormers are desperate to retain their title, especially in front of their home crowd.
After such an amazing win in the Aviva Stadium, Munster will likely welcome back players such as RG Snyman, Conor Murray, Malakai Fekitoa, and Calvin Nash.
These players will benefit from the rest they have gotten through HIA protocols and will add to the talent that was on show during the semi-final, where nearly every player stepped up dramatically.
And coming off the back of such a win can only propel Munster forward in terms of drive and determination going into the final.
Regardless of the travelling, it feels like this is the province’s time to step up and turn results into silverware, something that has not happened for this team in an awfully long time.
Munster’s heritage and rich history of winning Champions Cup finals and competing at the top end of most competitions seem like distant memories to loyal fans, but this final could be the making of a team that is on an upward trajectory.
There is such a pressure to win and a culture that has been built up by the team’s predecessors that people almost expect Munster to be constantly winning, and unfortunately, sometimes, that just doesn’t happen, but they now have a chance to rewrite the wrongs of previous seasons and set themselves up nicely for next year’s season.
The DHL Stormers, playing in their home venue, will be favourites going into this URC final, but that almost suits the travelling side better, as they were not favoured to win their previous fixtures against Glasgow and Leinster either.
It seems that Munster relish in the fact that no one backs them to win only themselves, and that never-give-up attitude and perseverance is what has gotten them this far in the competition.
There is no doubt that the province will be well up for this final, and hoping their winning momentum can last for one more game.