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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019
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Earls knows Munster are underdogs for Sarries but first focuses on Pro14

The wing scored two excellent tries in last weekend’s Champions Cup quarter-final.

MUNSTER WINGER KEITH Earls has called on his team-mates to kick on from their Champions Cup triumph over Edinburgh and finish their season with a bang.

31-year-old Earls bagged the two crucial tries for his side as they edged past the tough Scots and the Limerick native wants Munster to maintain their winning form against Cardiff on Friday in Cork.

Both teams remain in the hunt for the play-off positions in Conference A of the Guinness Pro14.

Keith Earls Keith Earls pictured at Munster's press conference on Monday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A win for Munster on Friday will guarantee them a spot in the play-offs, but they are still three points behind leaders Glasgow in the standings in the race for an automatic home semi-final. Earls says his side need to be clued in for this challenge.

“We’ve turned the page on Edinburgh now and we’re coming up against a Cardiff side who have a lot to fight for and a side who have beaten us in Cork,” said Earls, who now has 54 Munster tries to his name.

“They’re level on points with Connacht and they’re looking for a quarter-final and also we’re trying to put pressure on Glasgow as well. That’s the beauty of rugby, you push on to another big game.

“They’ll have their Grand Slam winners coming back with a serious amount of confidence as well and have personnel like Nick Williams who we know quite well.

“They have two boys in the centre as well who caused us to struggle a couple of months ago, so we’re going to have to bring our ‘A game’.

“It’s the time of the season where we want to be playing in big games and important pressurised games.”

Last weekend’s win in Murrayfield means Munster will face Saracens in the Champions Cup semi-finals for the second time in three seasons.

The English Premiership outfit were 26-10 winners at the Aviva Stadium that day, but the Ireland and Lions winger doesn’t want to let his mind drift from the challenge of the Blues this weekend.

“No we can’t (lose focus). Saracens is a couple of weeks away and we’re still fighting for a semi-final and quarter-final in the league.

Keith Earls Munster are focused on this weekend's clash with Cardiff Blues. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“(We’re) two completely different teams and we’ll enter as underdogs. We will have to learn from our mistakes from a couple of years ago. We know it’s going to be a massive challenge.

“I think they are the number one seeded team but we’ll give it a good belt anyway. But we have to think about the next couple of weeks first before we think about Saracens.”

Only for Earls’s quick thinking and nose for the try-line in Murrayfield, Munster would be reflecting on defeat this week and trying to pick up the pieces ahead of the Pro14 run in. His quick tap penalty in the first-half put them into the lead, while his brilliant second nine minutes from time clinched the win.

“It’s weird when you get these feelings when you know you are not going to lose. I didn’t think we were going to lose at the weekend. Look both sides were putting pressure on and both sides were cracking.

“It was a silly mistake by one of their players that turned the game for us and it that bit of luck we got.

“I knew I had an advantage (for the first try). He was completely offside and slaps the ball down so it’s kind of a free play as well, and thankfully it worked out. Their forwards got distracted and in fairness to the ref he left the game play on and thankfully it stood.

“You see how passionate forwards are about scrums and usually when it goes up or goes down they’re kinda patting each other on the back or pushing and shoving, so I knew I might get some bit of space so thankfully I did.

“We had a look at the game this morning and there is a lot we can improve on. And I think as rugby players we are never satisfied, we always look for perfection. We got a bit of luck as well and we know that, but you create your own luck.”

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Declan Rooney

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