Cockerill says Munster must up attacking game

Richard Cockerill.

As a player and a coach at the highest level, Richard Cockerill has been there, done that and bought the extra large t-shirts.

So when the Edinburgh head coach says Munster will have to up their attacking game to beat a Leinster team with more firepower than his own, attention should be paid.

Edinburgh came to Thomond Park on Saturday and put the frighteners on Munster, running the home side too close for comfort in their Guinness PRO14 quarter-final, losing 20-16 but only conceding victory with the clock ticking 82 minutes, a stolen lineout denying them metres from the home try-line as they chased a winning score.

It sets up a battle royale in the semi-finals in 12 days, when Munster must visit Leinster at the RDS and hope to topple a side regarded by common consensus as the best in Europe.

Proof of that assertion will be put to the test in this Saturday’s Champions Cup final in Bilbao when Leinster meet Racing 92.

But Cockerill believes Leo Cullen’s side will offer much more threat to Munster’s title ambitions than his Edinburgh managed when running them close in Limerick at the weekend.

“The way (Munster) play is to control teams and territory,” Cockerill said, when asked about the semi-final match-up.

"With respect to our guys, Leinster have probably got a little bit more firepower than we have.

It will be really interesting. Munster will have to be very accurate to execute a game plan like that and control a team like Leinster because Leinster have got more threat and a bit more firepower across the team.

Accuracy was not at the forefront for much of Munster’s performance against Edinburgh, with 19 missed tackles in each half and the concession of possession to the visitors for long stretches.

Munster took advantage of a lineout malfunction to take the lead through Rhys Marshall and a piece of individual magic from Simon Zebo to set up Keith Earls for their second try.

But for the most part, former Leicester Tigers boss Cockerill was relieved the men in red did not pose more problems in attack.

“My belief is that if you are going to beat big teams you are going to have to play rugby at some point. You are going to score tries. “They scored a couple (Saturday) but one was from a lineout and one was from a bit of brilliance.

“My own opinion is you have to play a bit of rugby to score tries and you have to open the game up at times. There were opportunities out there for Munster to attack us when we were short of numbers and I was grateful they kicked it instead.

“But they are a champion, winning side. You choose how you want to play.

“Johann (van Graan) and his coaches choose how they want to play. They have got a semi-final this year in Europe. Now they are in a semi-final against Leinster.

“The proof will be in the pudding whether they will go on and win.”


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