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Team Named | Munster Side To Face Connacht

December 20, 2019 11:48 am By The Editor

Academy winger Liam Coombes starts against Connacht on Saturday.

Academy winger Liam Coombes starts against Connacht on Saturday. Inpho

The Munster team to face Connacht in Galway on Saturday evening in the Guinness PRO14 has been named by Head Coach Johann van Graan.

There are ten changes to the team that faced Saracens last weekend with four Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players named in the squad.

Craig Casey makes his first PRO14 start at scrum-half having previously featured twice off the bench and Dave Kilcoyne returns from injury to start in the front row.

Academy winger Liam Coombes makes his fourth PRO14 appearance and starts alongside cousin Gavin Coombes for the first time in the PRO14.

CJ Stander retains his place and the captaincy with Chris Farrell, JJ Hanrahan, Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland also keeping their places in the starting XV.

Shane Daly is named at full-back with Calvin Nash and Liam Coombes on either flank.

Dan Goggin and Farrell pair up in the centres with Casey and Hanrahan in the half-backs.

Kilcoyne, Kevin O’Byrne and Stephen Archer start in the front row with the second-row partnership of Kleyn and Holland unchanged.

Gavin Coombes, Chris Cloete and Stander complete the side.

Academy players Diarmuid Barron, Keynan Knox and Ben Healy – who have all featured in the PRO14 already this season – are included among the replacements. Jeremy Loughman returns from injury to take his place on the bench.

Find out all you need to know ahead of the game here.

Munster: Shane Daly; Calvin Nash, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Liam Coombes; JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Gavin Coombes, Chris Cloete, CJ Stander (C).

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Jeremy Loughman, Keynan Knox, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Ben Healy, Sammy Arnold.

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Report | Munster Win At The Sportsground

December 21, 2019 8:11 pm By The Editor

Jack O’Donoghue in the thick of it.

Jack O’Donoghue in the thick of it.

JJ Hanrahan was perfect with five out of five from the tee, while Jack O’Donoghue’s first-half try helped Munster claim a vital victory in this Conference B battle at the Sportsground.

In the first of three Christmas inter-pros Munster put in a powerful performance, and with a ruthless display in attack and a tight outing in defence they left Galway with the win for the second season in a row.

Jack Carty crossed for a late try for Connacht to give them a losing bonus point, but with Craig Casey, O’Donoghue and Chris Farrell in top form Munster opened up a four-point lead on their neighbours in the standings.

After a lively opening the visitors to College Road took the lead when Gavin Coombes delivered a big hit on Caolin Blade and the Connacht scrum half conceded the penalty. Hanrahan clipped over the kick to give his side a 3-0 lead after nine minutes.

In that opening spell neither team managed to build enough of phases to test the defence out wide, but when Connacht finally got their hands on some consistent ball, an infringement from Billy Holland after the tackle allowed former Munster academy player Conor Fitzgerald to drill over the levelling penalty from the right after 17 minutes.

Munster reclaimed the lead just after the midway point of the half when Tom Daly’s tackle on Farrell drifted high and Hanrahan scored from straight in front of the posts, and 15 minutes from the break van Graan’s side opened out the lead even further.

There were a series of strong phases from the Munster pack inside the Connacht 22, and after he was stopped just short with his first attempt O’Donoghue got back to his feet and scored from the next phase. Hanrahan’s conversion made it 13-3.

Fitzgerald kicked his second penalty of the game to trim the deficit for Connacht, but eight minutes from the interval the Munster scrum earned a penalty and Hanrahan made it 16-6.

But there was still time for the home side to hit back before half-time, and after John Porch’s lightening speed broke open the Munster defence, O’Donoghue conceded a penalty at the breakdown and Fitzgerald scored to leave it 16-9 at the break.

Munster’s hopes of victory were boosted early in the second half when Hanrahan kicked his fourth penalty of the night following an infringement from Tiernan O’Halloran, which stretched their lead out to 19-9.

From that point Connacht turned up the pressure on van Graan’s side, but a series of big defensive plays kept them at bay, with O’Donoghue, Jean Kleyn and Farrell to the fore.

The pressure finally told seven minutes from the end when Blade and replacement Carty linked up following a strong driving maul from the home side and the Ireland out-half stretched to score.

Connacht tried to find a way back in the closing stages, but Munster showed great composure to roll down the clock and take the points.

Guinness PRO14 Round 8 Round-Up

JJ Hanrahan was awarded the man of the match.

Craig Casey made his first Guinness PRO14 start.

Cousins Gavin and Liam Coombes started their first Guinness PRO14 game together.

Four Academy players were named in the squad – Liam Coombes in the starting XV, with Diarmuid Barron, Keynan Knox, and Ben Healy on the bench.

The province remain top of Conference B.

Munster: Shane Daly (Sammy Arnold, 58); Calvin Nash, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Liam Coombes; JJ Hanrahan, Craig Casey (Neil Cronin, 64); Dave Kilcoyne (Jeremy Loughman, 55), Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer (Keynan Knox, 64); Jean Kleyn (Fineen Wycherley, 70), Billy Holland; Gavin Coombes (Jack O’Donoghue, 9), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander (C).

Not Used: Diarmuid Barron, Ben Healy.

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