Munster v Connacht
Guinness PRO14, Conference A, Round 21
Thomond Park, Limerick @7:35pm, Saturday 27th April 2019
Munster will be looking to bounce back from last weeks Champions Cup defeat to Saracens in Coventry with a win over local rivals Connacht in the final round of the regular season PRO14. For Connacht an impressive win over Cardiff in their last game has ensured a third-place finish in Conference A, As a result, this game is a bit of a dead rubber for the westerners. Andy Friend and his coaching team are sure to have one eye on their quarter-final clash with Ulster in Ravenhill a week later.
As the table currently stands it’s 2nd v 3rd in Conference A. Connacht sit on 61 points, 12 behind Munster who have 73 points, but can not be caught by Ospreys or Cardiff who lie in 4th and 5th spots. Munster will know that they require a favour from Edinburgh if they are to have a chance to catch Glasgow who are three points ahead of them at the top of the table. Both games get underway at 7:35pm and Munster fans will have one eye on the scoreline in that game. Top spot ensures a home semi-final and avoids an extra game, which would be a home tie against the third-placed side from Conference B.
Johann Van Graan will be eager to see his charges bounce back from their most recent Champions Cup semi-final defeat with a win and a positive performance. One criticism levelled at his side is that they struggle to score tries against the top sides. Certainly, the loss of Joey Carbery and Keith Earls took away two key attacking threats from his side last weekend.
I would expect Van Graan to rest some of the side that played last week in the knowledge that his Connacht counterpart Andy Friend has hinted about making changes to his Connacht side to give some of this squad players game time. However, there is more potentially riding on the outcome for Munster and I’d expect them to win this one relatively easily.