URC play-offs: Munster v Glasgow: Johnny Matthews eyes revenge

"It’s a team we probably owe one for after last year so we’ll be going to try to get our own back."

Johnny Matthews carries the ball for Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun during last year's URC quarter-final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Johnny Matthews carries the ball for Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun during last year's URC quarter-final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

REVENGE will be a dish best served cold for Glasgow Warriors if they manage to get the better of Munster in Limerick on Saturday night – and if a more pragmatic approach than usual is required to achieve that goal, meaning that Johnny Matthews doesn’t add to his already incredible try-tally for the season, then that’ll be alright with the hooker.

Warriors’ powerful line-out maul has been a key factor in the 30-year-old’s haul of 14 tries so far in this URC campaign – making him the league’s top try-scorer – but Franco Smith‘s team twice opted to go for the posts with penalties instead of kicking to the corner in last weekend’s quarter-final win over the Stormers, and Matthews says he is fully on-board with that approach being adopted again so long as it delivers the required result.

George Horne‘s kicking [for goal] was outstanding at the weekend and probably one of the major factors for the victory,” said Matthews. “So we can win in different ways and pose a different threat to teams who are coming up against us, something we haven’t done before in kicking for the posts.


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“It adds another threat for us and if George is kicking like that then nobody in the team will have any issues if he’s knocking the points over.

“When we look back on the quarter-final last year, Munster did an excellent job of nullifying that [line-out] threat. We need to make sure we’re at the top of our game to cancel that out if they come with another weapon against it.”

“The physicality shown on Saturday was brilliant,” he added. “Pete Murchie [Warriors’ defence coach] spoke all week about where we would need to go as a team to get the victory. And I think we will need to go another step further to get the away win down in Thomond.”

Warriors played three-quarters of last year’s URC quarter-final defeat to Munster with 14-men following the red-carding of Tom Jordon for a high tackle, and they squandered a glut of penalties and picked up a yellow-card whilst slumping to an insurmountable 26-5 half-time deficit when they faced the same opposition in Cork earlier this season.

The challenge for Glasgow Warriors will be balancing the need to match or better Munster’s aggression and ability to play on the edge, without overstepping the mark.

“Discipline is important in every game but it’s not something we touch upon too much,” said Matthews. “We’ve not had too many red cards. That’s something that probably sticks out for most people and rightly so. Discipline going away in any fixture is going to be key. If we can get on the right side of the referee then we’re always going to be in a good position moving forward.

 

 

“We’ve got a couple of people in the team who are very good at getting us in the right place emotionally. And those people will become more prominent throughout the week and more and more vocal. On Saturday we showed we had a real edge and it will be a similar level to that that we’ll need to get to – if not more – if we’re to get this win.

Sione Tuipulotu is fantastic at getting us going. In the forwards there’s Zander Fagerson and Richie Gray who, when they speak, speak very well. They’re two people who come to the fore when it comes to getting us to the right level. Kyle Steyn also speaks really well in the huddles and gets us going. They’re a very prominent four people when it comes to getting us to the right level.

“This week we don’t really need any motivation against the team that knocked us out last year in the quarter-finals. It’s a team we probably owe one for after last year so we’ll be going to try to get our own back.

“You’ve got to see them as one of the great competitors. We always come off the field after a real battle against them. It was something that Ryan Wilson used to get the boys going with, in terms of the rivalry. They’re a great team and it’s always a real physical test when we come up against them. We get ourselves up for that naturally.”

During the last few seasons, Matthews has been one of a cohort of four who have shared lifts from their homes in Edinburgh through to Scotstoun and back for training and matches, but he is having to get used to the idea of making the journey along the M8 alone.

Fraser Brown’s gone [retired], Sean Kennedy’s moved house and George Turner is off to Japan – so I’m on my own now,” he reflects. “I’m not sure if it’s something I’ve done but I’m certainly in trouble financially. My fuel allowance has gone through the roof! I’ll miss George for a couple of reasons and that’s definitely one of them.”

 


Help tell the story of Murrayfield’s 100 years as the home of Scottish rugby

About David Barnes 3991 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

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