Munster prop Stephen Archer knows a big maul and scrum battle is coming in Belfast.
Munster’s challenge now is to show that last weekend’s superb performance against Exeter was not simply a one-off.
During his tenure, Johann van Graan rightly felt it was among the province’s best displays. However, the head coach could do with a repeat of it as Munster faces an intensive United Rugby Championship match against Ulster tomorrow night [KO 7.35 pm, RTÉ].
Second-placed Ulster is three points ahead of Munster in the URC table, so the reward for winning is obvious. Still, van Graan’s men also have to worry about what’s coming up behind them – namely three South African teams and Edinburgh, trying so hard to earn a spot in the quarter-finals.
With the URC battle aside, this is a big game for Munster. The last time they got a victory in Belfast goes back to 2016 when a late goal from Rory Scannell gave them their third consecutive victory at Kingspan Stadium. However, Munster has lost their four visits since, so this score needs to be settled.
Factor it all in, and Munster has to firmly back last weekend up.
“You’re playing Ulster,” says Munster tight head prop Stephen Archer. ” Ulster is such a big match; you immediately focus straight away.
“We know if we’re not right, we will look pretty stupid if we’re mentally off it. So I don’t think there will be an issue with really focusing there.
“I’ve lost more up there than I’ve won, it’s a special place for rugby, and I look forward to it. I’m sure there will be a big hostile atmosphere waiting for us on Friday night.”
Ulster faces the challenge of immediately bouncing back from the disappointment of being knocked out of the Champions Cup by Toulouse. Dan McFarland’s men will have plenty of regrets about errors they made over the two legs of that Round of 16 match-ups.