‘Must win’ game for Munster

The prospect of missing out on qualification for next season’s European Champions Cup looms larger than ever for Munster after Glasgow Warriors’ win over the Newport Gwent Dragons on Thursday. That result drops Munster to eighth in the Guinness Pro12 table with only the top six assured of Champions Cup action.

‘Must win’ game for Munster

“Unimaginable and unthinkable, the worst case scenario,” is the view of loose head prop Dave Kilcoyne on such a season outcome.

“We’reaware of the situation and will deal with it one game at a time,” promises Anthony Foley as he rules out any talk of crisis in the camp.

And ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Italy, full-back Andrew Conway warns: “Nothing comes easy with Treviso.”

It is no surprise everyone connected with the one-time European specialists is concerned as they prepare for what is now regarded as a “must-win” encounter with the Italians at the Stadio Monigo (2pm Irish time).

In spite of having a large number of their squad on international duty with Italy, Treviso have won their last two matches and have moved within four points of Zebre in the contest for Italian representation in the Champions Cup next season.

Stadio Monigo hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Munster. They have had five wins and three losses in their eight wins.

They did come out on top in their relatively meaningless European game last month and indeed haven’t lost there since September 2013, their cause in a 29-19 defeat not helped by having four men yellow-carded. It’s a similarly fractious kind of game they can expect.

Foley welcomes back key man Frankie Saili to the centre after a bout of concussion and has made six changes in all from the side that lost to Glasgow.

Dave O’Callaghan, Mark Chisholm and Gerhard Van den Heever are recalled in the back-row, second-row and on the wing, respectively.

Surprisingly, Tommy O’Donnell and Dave Foley, both released by Joe Schmidt, have to be content with places on the bench.

Foley’s Treviso counterpart Marius Goosen also has Italian squad members at his disposal and includes New Zealander Jayden Hayward at full-back, captain and centre Alberto Sgarbi, 42-times capped England second-row Tom Palmer and prop Alberto De Marchi.

“There were big turning points in all three games between us this year and we were fortunate that all three fell our way,” Foley admits.

“So we’re hoping that we can get our performance right, go over there and get a result.”

Foley will hope for a more favourable interpretation of the laws from referee Ian Davies than he believes his side received from a few of his Welsh compatriots in recent games.

Either way, discipline will be a major factor in determining an outcome that could be absolutely crucial to the immediate future of the game in Munster.

TREVISO:

J Hayward; L Nitoglia, L Morisi, A Sgarbi capt, A Esposito; S Christie, A Lucchese; Alaberto De Marchi, L Bigi, S Ferrari, F Paulo, T Palmer, M Barbini, M Lazzaroni, R Barbieri.

Replacements:

F Zani, C Traore, P Filippetto, J Montauriol, D Budd, Andrea De Marchi, C Smylie, T Iannone.

MUNSTER:

A Conway; D Sweetnam, F Saili, R Scannell, G Van den Heever; I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, J Ryan, M Chisholm, B Holland capt, J O’Donoghue, D O’Callaghan, R Copeland.

Replacements:

N Scannell, P McCabe, M Sagario, D Foley, T O’Donnell, C Sheridan, C Bohane, D Johnston.

Referee:

Ian Davies (Wales).

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