MUNSTER WERE PHYSICALLY battered by Clermont last weekend in Thomond Park.
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It’s not often a criticism that can be thrown at the southern province, and the sight of Anthony Foley’s men repeatedly losing the collisions and the gainline wasn’t an enjoyable one for the Munster family.
An immediate rematch with the French side gives the likes of Conor Murray a chance to redeem themselves, and save their Champions Cup campaign too.
Defeat at Stade Marcel Michelin would leave Foley’s men in an almost impossible position in Pool 1. Mastering the contact situations will be priority number one in the Auvergne this weekend, even if the tactical challenge is likely to be considerably different.
“We’ve had to take a bit of a look at ourselves, fix a few things and marry that with a bit more physicality. We were probably beaten up a little bit. Not that we were surprised with how physical they were going to be, we just played into their hands a bit and didn’t match their physicality.
Murray believes Clermont will kick the ball less in France. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
“That’s a huge step we’ve got to take this week, looking at training and gearing up for this. Physicality is a huge thing; it’s a basic of rugby. If you win the physical battles, you get that momentum and you’re in a good position to win the game.”
Clermont appeared relatively content with Munster having possession in a wet Thomond Park last weekend, allowing their oppressive defensive line to swallow up ball carriers at every opportunity.
But ASM on home soil are so often a changed proposition. The reductive, basic gameplan we saw in Limerick is likely to be swapped for a more ambitious running and offloading blueprint.
“Down there with their home fans, they have a great atmosphere and it’s a great place to play rugby.