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Back To The Bread n Butter Fare

25th February 2007 By Munster Rugby

Back To The Bread n Butter Fare

The euphoria of last weekend and the splendour of Croke Park gives way this weekend to Magners League and Musgrave Park where Munster take on Cardiff Blues.

Nevertheless it’s an important game from Munster’s perspective as they attempt to improve their position in the League table and get in important game time ahead of the Heineken Cup clash with Llanelli Scarlets.

Munster have just two games to play before that trip to Wales and Friday’s encounter with Cardiff Blues will give coach Declan Kidney much needed competitive action to assess players.

Friday’s game is only the second time Munster have been in action since losing to Leicester in the middle of January. On top of that, Kidney will not see his side in action again until three weeks later when they run out against Ulster in Ravenhill  a week before the trp to Stradey Park.

So the inclusion in the squad for Friday night of Trevor Halstead, John Kelly and John O’Sullivan is welcome news. Halstead has been out of action since the game against Dragons in early January with a calf injury. He had been named in the extended squad for the trip to Netherdale a fortnight ago but in the end it was felt that game might have come a little too early for the former Springbok.

John Kelly, a model of consistency all season, and possibly one of the most underrated players – outside of Munster – limped out of the Leicester game after 21 minutes with a rib cartilage injury and John O’Sullivan came a cropper in the Dragons game after Colin Charvis accidentally fell on his knee.

O’Sullivan was another player enjoying a rich vein of form and his return is particularly opportune given the injury sustained by James Coughlan – a player who has been a revelation for Munster this season  – in the Borders game.

In terms of form, Munster have won five of their last six matches in the Magners League since early November, and have lost only once at Musgrave Park  – 17-20 to Ulster in December 2005 – in their last dozen encounters:

Cardiff Blues lost their last game 3-22 in Glasgow and have been defeated in their last four away matches in all competitions. The Blues’ only win in Ireland since 2004 was 18-8 over Connacht at the Sportsground in January 2005.
The two sides have already met on three occasions this season with Cardiff winning the Magners League clash 22-13 at the Arms Park, but Munster taking both legs in the European Cup during December.

13 of the 22 that featured for Munster in that opening day defeat this season at The Arms Park are included in the extended squad for Friday.

Munster Squad: C Cullen, S Payne, I Dowling, J Kelly, B Murphy, L Mafi, T Halstead, E Hickey, J Manning, B O’Meara, T O’Leary, T Buckley, F Pucciariello, D Hurley, F Sheahan, J Flannery, M O’Driscoll, C Wyatt, D Ryan, M Melbourne, J O’Sullivan, A Quinlan, T McGann.

Munster will train again tomorrow in Limerick and it is expected that Kidney will name his match day 22 on Thursday lunchtime.

Once again Munster supporters are advised to purchase their tickets for the game prior to the day itself. A Branch spokesperson has advised that because of demand over the past number of days, tickets may not be on sale on Friday evening.



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