Pro 14: Munster v Ulster Preview

With second place in Conference A all but wrapped up and the wounds of Sunday’s Champions Cup semi-final loss to Racing 92 still fresh, Munster will need to summon every ounce of their pride if they are to bounce back with a win over a determined Ulster outfit this Friday, writes Shaun Goosen.

Munster v Ulster
27 April 19h35
Thomond Park, Limerick

To Win (80mins)
Munster 1/4
Draw 26/1
Ulster 1/4

That heart-breaking 22-27 last-four loss in Bordeaux marked the club’s fifth since they last claimed the title in 2008, a record that has led to many Limerick bars fast running out of pints of Guinness for mourning reds supporters. While they may have again fallen at the penultimate hurdle, there is some cause for celebration in the manner in which Johann van Graan’s men continued to fight right until the death; even after the result had long been decided.

Bouncing back from such a setback is never easy, and it’s made doubly difficult when the side you’re next up against has found some fine form – and has a hell of a lot more still to play for. Ulster have a 100% record from their last three and proved in their 36-15 win over the high-flying Glasgow Warriors last week that they still mean business. If they manage a win at Thomond Park and the Warriors contain Edinburgh at the Scotstoun, then it is they who will sneak into the playoffs at the latter’s expense.

Nothing less than a bonus-point win will do for the men from Ravenhill. Edinburgh sit one place above them in Conference B with a far superior points-difference (114 to Ulster’s 56) and therefore cannot afford to take away anything other than a maximum five-points from this weekend’s encounter.

It remains to be seen how many of Munster’s frontmen will appear on Friday. With this effectively being a “dead rubber” for them, van Graan and his coaching staff may opt to rest several of his key players ahead of the playoffs; especially after their European hangover. Ulster on the other hand, will come out all guns blazing in an attempt to salvage something of their season.

Verdict: Ulster 1/4
While the strength of Munster’s resolve has proven me wrong before, Ulster’s desire to win will see them take away a bonus-point win from Thomond Park. While the result may still be in vain, the Northern Irishmen won’t die wondering.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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