Peter O’Mahony believes his Munster side will have to put in their best game of the season if they are to overcome Scarlets at Aviva Stadium this Saturday and he is to lift the Guinness Pro12 trophy.
The Munster captain led his side into next weekend’s final with a 23-3 victory for the league table toppers over fourth-place finishers Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday, the Irish province outgunning the Welsh region by three tries to none, breaking out of an 8-3 arm-wrestle after a first-half try from Francis Saili with second-period scores from Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway.
Yet O’Mahony recognises that beating Scarlets will take something else again from Rassie Erasmus’s side, given the blistering form Wayne Pivac’s side has shown this year, winning 11 of their last dozen Pro12 games, including a 30-21 win at Thomond Park in February having trailed 21-6 at the interval.
Last Friday’s outstanding 27-15 victory over Leinster at the RDS made the first away side to win a league semi-final and their running rugby and clinical finishing underscored just how difficult a side to deal with when they get ball in hand.
As well as Munster have played since losing their Champions Cup semi-final to Saracens in Dublin on April 22, O’Mahony knows it is going to need something special to win their first silverware since the 2011 league title.
“There is always more to come but I think if we are going to win next weekend, it’s got to be our best performance of the year,” the Munster, Ireland and Lions flanker said. “With the form that the Scarlets are in, it’s going to take that and probably more.”
“They are in incredible form. Whatever we went up at half-time, we were playing well that day and they came back and obviously beat us.
“You saw the quality they have last night. The quality of rugby they played, how efficient they were with the ball, how good they were at the breakdown. They’re a complete team and whoever beats them is going to have to be very good.”
O’Mahony said Munster would not be ripping up their gameplan to deal with the Scarlets threat, adding: “You don’t change much. I think it’s week 48 or 49 that our schedule is at (this season). You make little tweaks here or there but we have our plan that we have stuck to over the last nine months. We’re not going changing majorly over the next five or six days.”
That Munster have kept going throughout this most tumultuous of campaigns is a credit to the resilience of O’Mahony and his squad, not only to keep their heads above water in the wake of head coach Anthony Foley’s death but to use it as a galvanising force for greater success.
“I’m very proud, very proud,” the captain said. “It was difficult at times. We won a lot of games this year in the last five or 10 minutes whereas last year, we were probably on the receiving end of those losses. It’s a difficult thing to do but we’ve stuck at it and trained unbelievably hard.
“We’ve got ourselves out of some tricky situations and yeah, I am 100 per cent proud of what the lads have achieved so far this season.
“I could be here all day talking about the season. Obviously we have had some of the lowest lows of all time and then we’ve put in a lot of very good performances.
“It’s testament to this group of guys. We were well into our off-season this time last year and we didn’t have any rugby to play. Now we’re playing up the last week you can play in, in our domestic league. It’s testament to the guys, we’ve knuckled down, we’ve stuck to what we have been given and look, we’ve made a final. We haven’t won anything but we’ve put ourselves in a position to win something.”
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