Having pipped Toulon by a single point in their Champions Cup quarter-final of three weeks ago, Munster will be confident of picking up another win over French opposition when they travel to Bordeaux to take on Racing 92 on Sunday, Shaun Goosen reports.
Racing 92 v Munster
22 April 16h15
Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux
To Win (80mins)
Racing 92 1/5
The results of both ties earlier in the season went the way of the home side; Munster claiming a 14-7 October win at Thomond Park before Racing hit back with a 34-30 result at the U Arena three months later.
In the end, it was the Irishmen who managed to win the Pool by two points ahead of the Parisians, this despite both sides recording the same amount of four victories.
To further complicate proceedings, the match – which Racing are effectively “hosting”, will be played over 600 km’s away from the comforts of the U Arena – the Frenchmen’s regular home turf – at the Stade Chaban-Delmas. This has only served to broaden the smile in Munster’s Irish eyes, with the Red Army sure to relish the opportunity at knocking out the Parisians on France’s East Coast.
Indeed, Munster are ever-present in the Champions Cup this season, with their memorable 20-19 win over Toulon in the last eight meaning they now have a shot at going one better than they did last season by qualifying for their first Grand Final since 2008. Coach Johann van Graan has seamlessly assumed the reigns of the two-time champions from Rassie Erasmus and his boys are fired up after so many near-misses.
The same could be said of Racing. The two Laurents, Labit and Travers, will have that 2016 final loss to Saracens at the backs of their minds when prepping their side for the semi-final showdown and will be going balls to the wall to ensure their beloved club gets another shot at the title.
Both sides are brimming with talent. The fact that we get to see the likes of Connor Murray, CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony, Dan Carter, Leone Nakarawa, and Pat Lambie all on the pitch simultaneously, is nothing short of rugby royalty.
Let’s hope the spectacle lives up to its blockbuster billing.
Verdict: Munster 5/10
Murray’s recent performance in Munster’s slim 19-17 Pro14 win over the Cheetahs again underlined his status as arguably the greatest nine on the planet and his tactical kicking nous should again be at the forefront of Munster’s efforts this weekend. I’m backing him to upstage Carter and Maxime Machenaud and make it an all Irish final.