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Munster Side Named For Connacht

May 5, 2017 11:48 am By The Editor

Munster back row Jean Deysel returns to the starting lineup this weekend.

Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus makes eight changes from the side that defeated Benetton Treviso for tomorrow evening’s round 22 encounter with Connacht at Thomond Park – ko 5.15pm.

With James Cronin, Rhys Marshall and Stephen Archer remaining in the front row, Billy Holland returns to captain the side and partners Darren O’Shea in the second row while the only other change in the pack sees Jean Deysel overcome a rib injury to start at blindside flanker. Yesterday named as Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Player of the Year, Conor Oliver joins Jack O’Donoghue in completing the pack.

Across the backline Angus Lloyd and Ian Keatley come in at half back with Keatley to make his 150th appearance for Munster, doing so against his former side for whom he won 57 caps.

In midfield, academy centre Dan Goggin returns to the starting lineup alongside Jaco Taute who just today was announced as one of six Munster players in the 2016/17 Guinness PRO12 Dream Team.

The final changes see speedsters Keith Earls, Alex Wootton and Andrew Conway form a new back-three.

Naming a very strong bench with no less than six Irish internationals, Erasmus includes Conor Murray in a matchday 23 for the first time since the scrum half sustained a shoulder injury in Ireland’s 6 Nations encounter with Wales at the Millennium Stadium back in March.

Player Update: Following a scan this week, Dave O’Callaghan will meet with a specialist for the knee injury he sustained in the round 21 win over Treviso.

Munster: Andrew Conway, Alex Wootton, Jaco Taute, Dan Goggin, Keith Earls; Ian Keatley, Angus Lloyd; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Darren O’Shea, Billy Holland – capt.; Jean Deysel, Conor Oliver, Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Francis Saili.

Munster v Connacht, Guinness PRO12 round 22, Saturday May 6th at Thomond Park, ko 5.15pm.

Tickets can be purchased online here, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, or by calling 061 421103.

Form guide, pre-match stats, permutations and more, click here for your essential Munster v Connacht preview.

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Munster Top PRO12 Table With Emphatic Connacht Win

May 6, 2017 9:40 pm By The Editor

Andrew Conway scores his first try.

No more could be asked of Rassie Erasmus’ men as they finished out the regular season in sublime fashion with a 50-14 win over nearest rivals Connacht, a result that sees them overtake Leinster in the PRO12 standings and head into the semi finals as top seeds.

Following the conclusion of a Super Saturday of action with all round 22 games kicking off at 5.15pm, the Championship’s final-four is made up of – first to fourth respectively – Munster, Leinster, Scarlets and Ospreys.  Consequently, in the semi final, Munster will host Ospreys on Saturday May 20th at Thomond Park – KO 6.15pm. Tickets can be purchased online here.

With man of the match Ian Keatley pulling the strings masterfully at 10, in what was his 150th appearance in red, tries from Keith Earls, Andrew Conway and Jack O’Donoghue left Connacht with a lot to do in the second half as they trailed 24-0.

And the rout continued immediately upon the resumption, James Cronin and the boot of Keatley putting Munster 31-0 up before Connacht fired a shot through Cian KelleherNualia Dawai also dotted down for the western province but that was well outweighed by further tries from Conway, Francis Saili and the academy’s Conor Oliver, Munster reaching the half-century right on 80 minutes.

The hosts were up and running on seven minutes, Dan Goggin taking a flat Keatley pass while running the sweetest of lines.  The academy centre then found Earls on his shoulder who raced over in the corner with Keatley taking full advantage with the extras.

As impressive in attack as they were in defence, Munster remained impenetrable in the opening half, not only halting the Connacht advance, but also driving it backwards, often turning defence into attack.

One such example came on 28 minutes.  Connacht, unable to exit their own 22 via the phases, opted for the clearing kick only for Munster to run it back in a passage of play that culminated in Conway, Cronin and O’Donoghue all combining for the latter to score Munster’s second on 27 minutes.  Keatley was again inch perfect in adding the conversion.

The playmaker was to the fore for Munster’s third.  In the first instance, the dancing feet of Alex Wootton made good headway with little room to work with down the right wing, and the same could be said of Keatley and Conway who combined beautifully to finish off the move.  The fullback utilised both dexterity and strength to ground the ball with Keatley making it a full seven-pointer.

Two minutes into the second half and Keatley was lining up his fourth successful conversion of the game after Cronin used his considerable bulk to burst through the green line of defence at close range.

Attempting it on a number of occasions, Connacht’s cross-field kick eventually paid dividends when Kelleher dotted down in the right corner with Craig Ronaldson converting, but Munster’s reply was swift.

This time Conway completed his brace off a deft pass from Jaco Taute that drew the man and created the gap.  The fullback was straight through and even had the luxury of running behind the posts to hand Keatley the easiest of conversions.

The long reaching frame and arms of Dawai scored Connacht’s second, Ronaldson converting, to make it 38-14 with just under a quarter left to play, however Munster we’re in their pomp and any hopes of a miraculous comeback were well and truly dashed when the ever threating Saili scooped up loose ball at close range and danced over the line.  Keatley made it a full seven point return.

Oliver’s try on 79 minutes provided the icing on the cake, the game finishing with Keatley’s one missed kick of the evening – Munster completing the regular season and heading for the semis in assured and convincing fashion.

Guinness PRO12 round 22 roundup: Today’s game saw man of the match Ian Keatley win his 150th cap for Munster, becoming the third member of the current squad to do so alongside Donnacha Ryan and Billy Holland.

Coming on as a second half replacement, Munster, Ireland and Lions scrum half Conor Murray made a successful return to action from the shoulder injury he sustained in Ireland’s 6 Nations loss to Wales back in March.

On the injury front, Erasmus reported that Alex Wootton left the field with what could be a serious hamstring injury.  He continues to be assessed by the Munster medical team.

Two Greencore Munster Rugby Academy representatives, Dan Goggin and Conor Oliver, featured for Munster in this evening’s game.

Munster play Ospreys in the Guinness PRO12 semi final at Thomond Park on Saturday May 20th at 6.15pm.  Tickets can be purchased online here, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices or by calling 061 421103.

Munster: Andrew Conway, Alex Wootton (Beyendaal 46), Jaco Taute (Saili 58), Dan Goggin (Taute 70), Keith Earls; Ian Keatley, Angus Lloyd (Murray 52); James Cronin (Kilcoyne 58), Rhys Marshall (Scannell 58), Stephen Archer (Ryan 58); Darren O’Shea (O’Mahony 58), Billy Holland – capt.; Jean Deysel (O’Donnell 65), Conor Oliver, Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Francis Saili.

Afterwards, MunsterRugby.ie spoke exclusively to brace scorer Andrew Conway

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