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Munster can qualify for the last eight with a win at Gloucester
Gloucester will need to end a run of three straight Heineken Cup defeats to Munster if they are to have any chance of finishing top of Pool with their 26-10 defeat at Thomond Park earlier in the year was their third consecutive loss to the Irishmen in the competition.
Nigel Davies’ men are currently five points behind Munster in Pool 6 ahead of their must-win encounter having been beaten by Edinburgh in their last outing in Europe.
Wing Charlie Sharples admits they must learn the lessons from their Aviva Premiership defeat to Saracens last weekend if they are to have any hope of beating the Irish giants.
“It will be a massive challenge for us,” said Sharples. “But one thing we have learnt from Saracens is we have to step our game up.
“Munster are similar to Saracens in the respect that they’re a very clinical team. They have a good set of forwards, a solid set-piece, good defence and are generally a very difficult team to play.
“It’s not a massively flash game but they’re good at what they do and when it goes behind to the backs in a broken field they throw the ball around.
“We’ll look at the things that didn’t go well against Saracens and learn from them. Then we’ll look at Munster in detail and try to put on a better show.”
Munster could be boosted by the return of scrum-half Conor Murray, who has been out for a month since injuring his knee against Perpignan. They know that a win at Kingsholm will guarantee a place in the last eight and full back Felix Jones insists that is always seen as the minimum requirement.
“I think in Munster, not to qualify for the quarter-finals is always going to be seen as unforgivable,” said Jones.
“After the Edinburgh game we knew we had to fight to get ourselves into this position so it’s very hard to look upon these games as a whole, we look on them individually as they come.”
Gloucester have lost their last three Heineken Cup ties against Munster – a run which includes the 26-10 defeat at Thomond Park in Round 2.
Munster have won four of the six meetings between the clubs, losing two. Both of Gloucester’s victories over Munster – in 2002 and 2004 – were at Kingsholm.
Munster have made the most passes per match (163) in the tournament to date.
Going into Round 5, Gloucester’s tackling success rate of 91% is the joint-highest in the tournament (along with Leinster).