Edinburgh are first up on Munster's do-or-die list
Munster appear to have the trickiest assignment of the Irish provinces in round five of the Heineken Cup with a 12.45pm Sunday kick-off in their must-win game against Edinburgh at Murrayfield on January 13th.
Michael Bradley’s side have been poor in Europe this season but the stadium was a graveyard for Leinster’s aspirations in the 2007/08 campaign. A 29-10 loss threatened to derail the Michael Cheika revolution but they recovered to win the tournament 18 months later.
Leinster are also staring down the barrel of a gun, with Joe Schmidt and players admitting two bonus-point wins are essential to make the quarter-finals. The Saturday evening (6pm kick-off) against the Scarlets at the RDS looks a perfect setting but they have the exact same schedule a week later over in Exeter’s Sandy Park.
Munster have another 12.45pm start the following Sunday at home to Racing Metro 92. Another potential do-or-die scenario.
Despite losing at home to Northampton last weekend, Ulster should top their pool by beating Glasgow at Ravenhill on Friday, January 11th. However, if Castres beat Northampton at Franklin’s Garden the same night then it all comes down to what happens at the Stade Pierre Antonie eight days later.
Ulster wing Tommy Bowe had an operation on his knee injury yesterday. The winger is a real concern for the Six Nations as he starts what is likely to be a lengthy rehabilitation. “All good. Op went well,” Bowe announced on Twitter yesterday.
The French will be without their international flanker Ibrahim Diarra, who yesterday got an eight-week suspension for stamping on Glasgow prop Moray Low during Sunday’s 10-8 victory. The independent judicial officer, Christopher Quinlan (England), found Diarra guilty under Law 10.4(b), determining the offence to be at the high-end entry point of nine weeks. Taking into account the player’s previously clean record, Quinlan deducted one week from the suspension. “Diarra will be free to play on 11th February 2013. Both the player and ERC have the right to appeal the decision,” read an ERC statement.
Finally, Connacht can’t progress as Harlequins are 11 points clear of them but they must visit The Stoop for a second season running before hosting Zebre at the Sportsground on Friday, January 18th.