URC play-offs: Munster v Glasgow: semi-final preparation is a slow-burner for Warriors

Stafford McDowall could rejoin the selection mix

Jack Dempsey carries the ball for Glasgow Warriors during last season's URC play-off quarter-final defeat to Munster Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Jack Dempsey carries the ball for Glasgow Warriors during last season's URC play-off quarter-final defeat to Munster Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

PETE MURCHIE has promised that Glasgow Warriors will be in the right place psychologically for the challenge of taking on Munster at Thomond Park in Saturday night’s URC semi-final – with the defence coach stressing that a slow but deliberate build-up to the game will be key to making sure the players are emotionally charged for the physical confrontation they will inevitably face whilst not forgetting the importance of maintaining discipline and staying focussed on the task at hand.

Warriors suffered a 40-29 loss when they played Munster away (at Musgrave Park in Cork) back in November, and they lost 5-14 to the Irishmen at the quarter-final stage of the play-offs at Scotstoun last May after Tom Jordan was red-carded midway through the first half, and Murchie says that valuable lessons have been drawn from those experiences.

With physical and mental fatigue also a factor at the end of a long, hard season, the key to Warriors’ preparation this week will be in making sure the players have time to refresh and recalibrate, so that they go into this do-or-die contest with fresh legs and clear heads.

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“There’s definitely a balance,” said the former full-back, who was 24th man when Warriors defeated Munster in Belfast to claim the PRO12 title (as the league was then named) back in 2015. “We played less than 48 hours ago so we’re still reviewing the [Stormers] game and starting to move on to Munster.

“You don’t want to push the emotional button too early in the week. There is no point having guys head-butting the walls today, saying what they’re going to do.

“It’s more about building that through the week, along with our game-plan. Then you start tapping in to the emotional bit and making sure we’re in the right place to take on a semi-final, away from home at Thomond Park.

“We know the place we’re going to have to get to, but you don’t need Tuesday warriors, you need Friday and Saturday warriors. We have to manage that as coaches, and we have great leaders who will go about managing that as well.

“The process doesn’t change. Just because it’s a semi-final, we’re not doing anything special in and around that. It’s our normal week-to-week process, looking to get the best out of individuals and the best out of the team.

He added: “I think we gave away six or seven penalties in the first five minutes [against Munster in December], got a yellow card after ten and discipline-wise we came out on the wrong side of the referee,” he added. “We barely touched the ball for the first 40 minutes – we just defended. We’ll need to defend a lot better than we did in Cork, that’s for sure, but I think we saw against the Stormers what we’re capable of for large parts of the game defensively.

“It’s going to take a massive effort on both sides of the ball. We know that. But I think it’s two pretty different teams that are going to take to the pitch at Thomond Park compared to that day in Cork. We’re going to have to be at our best.

“They have definitely evolved their attack since the change in attack coach. They still have the areas of the game they pride themselves on, in and around the set-piece and physicality, but they’ve got a few more bells and whistles in terms of how they attack and how they look to find space.

“Some of that is in and around the Irish blueprint and how the other provinces attack. Stat-wise they are high for ball in play and number and passes. They are not just a one-trick pony in terms of being set-piece, scrum and maul.  There is more to their game than that. They’ve got a pretty all-court game.”



Glasgow demonstrated a gritty obstinance which has not always been evident at crunch moments in the recent past when defeating Stormers in their URC play-off quarter-final at Scotstoun on Saturday night, and Murchie says the team will draw confidence from how they found a way to get what they needed out of that match despite a stuttering performance in attack.

“We showed discipline to stick at it for 80 minutes,” he said. “The conditions were difficult for both teams, and it was very tight pretty much the whole game.

“We had a six-point lead then it was nip and tuck and we only managed to pull away from them in the last 10 minutes.

“To be operating under that kind of stress in terms of the scoreboard, and it being very physical with ebbs and flows in terms of momentum, we created quite a few chances and just didn’t quite finish them off.

“To be able to press that home in the last ten minutes does a lot for belief about sticking to a plan and not losing faith in what we are doing. We eventually got the reward, and that was satisfying for the guys given the effort they had put in.”

Murchie reported close to a clean bill of health after Saturday’s game, and added that Glasgow may even welcome back the influential Stafford McDowall to the selection in the coming days.

Nathan McBeth went off for an HIA with the incident involving him so he’ll have to go through his protocols, but apart from that everyone was good,” explained Murchie. “It was a physical game but there’s no concerns.”

“Stafford trained today and he looked pretty good moving around, so it’s a step in the right direction. We’ll take it step by step.

“It [the infection in his hand] is a lot better. In the last couple of days it’s all healed up, so he was able to catch and pass without it opening up or any issues. We’ve got time, there will be a bit more contact tomorrow, see how he comes through that. We can make decisions in the next 24 hours.”

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About David Barnes 4001 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.

1 Comment

  1. The key to this game will be keeping 15 players on the pitch at all times, staying on the right side of the ref and keeping the head under pressure. If we don’t win this then it will be some of the players last game for Glasgow and emotions might be running high towards the end.


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