BY: Scott McGlynn
Munster and Glasgow Warriors go head to head at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast this Saturday as the Guinness Pro 12 draws to an exciting conclusion for another season.
Having topped the regular-season table, Glasgow are aiming for their first ever Pro 12 title and go into the final in good form – unbeaten in their last six games. Defeated finalists last year to Leinster, coach Gregor Townsend and his Glasgow players are aiming to go one step better this season and become the first Scottish club to become Pro 12 champions. Last weekend’s semi-final defeat of Ulster was a cagey affair, with Glasgow needing a try and conversion four minutes from time to seal a 16-14 victory over a resolute Ulster team. After a nervous and error strewn performance, Townsend will be more than aware that his team need to step up and improve if they are to have any chance of overcoming a strong Munster team. Glasgow will be focusing fully this week on the task ahead, using the experience of being losing finalists last year as motivation to ensure they perform at their best on Saturday. The chance of winners medals will not come along often for some of these players and for a few this will be their last appearance in a Glasgow shirt. Captain Alastair Kellock retires after this game – motivation indeed if any was required.
Munster are one of the powerhouses of European rugby – winners of the Guinness Pro 12 on three occasions and champions of Europe in 2006 and 2008. With a squad full of internationalists they will be hoping that their experience can put Glasgow to the sword on Saturday. Munster finished second to Glasgow in the regular-season table and held off a spirited Ospreys performance in their semi-final, coming out on top 21-18. They will likely be without two key players for the final however due to injury – scrum half Conor Murray and winger Simon Zebo. Both Irish regulars and British and Irish Lions, their loss will be felt by Munster and is definitely a positive for Glasgow to focus on. Munster will be looking to fly-half Ian Keatley to keep the score board ticking over – Keatley has scored 176 points for Munster in the Pro 12 this season and requires just one more point in the final to top the points-scorer list for the season.
With Munster aiming for their fourth title – which would tie them with both Leinster and Ospreys, and Glasgow going for their first ever title, Saturdays game is sure to be exciting. Both clubs have a passionate fan base so with a fantastic atmosphere assured, this game is one not to be missed.
Glasgow Warriors are a best price 2.5 (6/4) to lift the trophy for the first time. Munster are however favourites, available to back at 1.65 (8/13).