Munster achieved their essential aim of taking all five Guinness Pro 14 points from the visit of the lowly Southern Kings by the half-time whistle at Musgrave Park and after that, it was little more than a romp for a bang-in-form home side who thrilled the appreciative Cork crowd of 6,854 with ten tries on a delightful evening for attacking football.
Further evidence of the influence of West Cork rugby in the Munster team has come with the inclusion of Rosscarbery flanker John Hodnett for his first Guinness Pro 14 start — against South African side Southern Kings — at Musgrave Park this evening, kick-off 7. 35.
Devastating finishing in the final 10 minutes sent Racing 92 into the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals as the Parisians finally broke Munster’s brave resistance and left their hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds hanging by a slender thread.
Johann van Graan has rated fly-half JJ Hanrahan’s chances of facing Racing 92 on Sunday in Paris as 50/50 with the Munster boss preparing to decide between rookie Ben Healy and Rory Scannell as his starting number 10 in the absence of Joey Carbery.
One man’s setback appears to be an opportunity for a couple of his team-mates as Johnny Sexton’s likely absence from the start of the Six Nations seems to have opened the door for a pair of Munster stars to take centre-stage with Ireland in the coming weeks.
Joey Carbery’s likely return from an ankle injury before the end of the year will be good news for Ireland in the absence of Johnny Sexton but Munster will have to plan without him and a handful of others for this Saturday’s trip to Saracens.
Ask any Munster supporter their thoughts on the Saracens personnel coming to Thomond Park this evening and they will take the matchday squad named by Mark McCall yesterday in a heartbeat. Ask the Munster coaching group the same question and they will not be taking anything for granted.
Peter O’Mahony admitted Munster’s quarter-final qualification hopes had taken a hit from Saturday’s home stalemate with Racing 92, but both he and Johann van Graan were staying positive ahead of back-to-back games against Saracens next month.