Belfast Telegraph

Connacht's form show there's been a big power shift

By David Kelly

Another notable moment of history: for the first time in the professional era, Connacht have earned enough substantial support to be chalked up as favourites to beat Munster.

The spread margin may be merely two points, but it represents a seismic shift; despite the regularly risible attempts from the athletes involved to decry an occupation that is centuries old, turf accountants don't tot up these figures for fun.

This marketplace reflects reality; Connacht are expected to beat Munster; Munster are expected to lose to Connacht.

"We're back to underdogs which is where we like it," said Keith Earls, one of Munster's elder statesmen, outlining the sober new reality.

Munster and Connacht lost their last games in different ways but for the same reason; there's never a good way to lose but at least, Connacht's hints at improvement, Munster's at inhibition.

There has been incessant talk of how much "effort" and "work" Munster players and staff are investing; that should be a pre-requisite for any side in red; what they need is more inspiration, not an excess of perspiration.

One hopes Munster have moved on as an absence from Champions Cup football could have devastating consequences; they are the only Irish side not to face Italian opposition in the final three weeks so every single point is vital.

Munster hope to learn the lessons of their early season reverse in Thomond Park when they weren't able to hold on to possession and then struggled to convert when they had it; Leinster's defeat here last month followed a similar trend.

Connacht can afford to lose another game; Munster cannot; that desperation may suffice to haul the away side over the line.

Belfast Telegraph

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