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Cup final game for Munster

March 17, 2010 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Cup final game for Munster

Munster will not only want to put the disappointment of their trip to Newport behind them with a positive performance when they play the Scarlets in Musgrave Park tonight but also put themselves back into serious contention for a place in the knock-out stages of the competition.

They sit in fifth place this morning thanks only to Connacht’s win over Dragons last night, knowing that the next stage of the Magners League – with three home games in a row to come – will decide their fate in this year’s competition. It’s situation coach Tony McGahan readily accepts.
"We’ve created our own situation with our performance, our attitude and execution on the road and that makes the remaining home games very important." he said. " That starts with the Scarlets which really is a cup final for us to make sure we continue to push our way forward to the top four. If we get a result tonight,we do that. If we don’t it certainly gives us a bit of ground to chase."

After tonight’s game, two of the immediate pitfalls on that road come in the shape of Glasgow Warriors next week, themselves chasing knock-out glory and Leinster the Heineken Cup champions a week later so really Munster have very little wriggle room left.

With the likes of Ronan O’Gara and Tony Buckley engaged with Ireland on Saturday, the changes McGahan has made reflects the particular occasion rather than what has gone before. "It’s a case really of looking at what is the best 22, the best 15 for this week and we’re also looking to give everyone the opportunity to impress going into latter part of the season. We believe the 15, the 22 players we’ve selected are the best group of players to get the result we need."

One of the interesting selections is Scott Deasy at full back and with the obvious switch of Paul Warwick to out-half in O’Gara’s absence and Denis Hurley’s credentials already beyond question, Deasy’s selection at 15 looks like good business on the coach’s part.

McGahan expands, "Scott’s come up from the Academy, did the pre-season with us. He’s been in and out of the senior training environment most of the year but ever since our warm-weather camp in Lanzarote we’ve put him in full time with the senior squad and he’s certainly taken his chances. He played ten against Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago and we thought he performed very well so we’re giving him an opportunity where he’s probably more comfortable, at fifteen."

"Scarlets current form is very good. They’d an excellent result against a good Ulster side. They’ve also good form in the LV Cup and they’ll be coming to Musgrave to get a result. They’ve got their own motivation with Heineken Cup qualification. They’ve a lot to play for, are a very proud province. We’ve had excellent battles with them in the past and this one will be as tough as anything that’s gone before"

Munster: S Deasy; D Howlett, T Gleeson, J de Villiers, I Dowling; P Warwick, P Stringer; M Horan, D Varley, J Brugnaut; M O’Driscoll capt, B Holland; N Williams, N Ronan, J Coughlan. Replacements: D Fogarty, D Ryan, A Quinlan, T O’Donnell, D Williams, J Manning, D Hurley.

Scarlets: D Newton; J Ajuwa, R King, J Davies, A Fenby; R Priestland, T Knoyle; I Thomas, K Owens, D Manu; L Reed, D Day; J Turnbull, R Pugh, D Lyons capt. Replacements: P John, E Phillips, D Welch, R McCusker, M Roberts, D Evans, G Maule.

Munster - Match Page - Lineups - Preview

Munster Back In The Shake Up

March 19, 2010 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Munster Back In The Shake Up

Munster’s 23-17 win over Scarlets in front of a near 5000 crowd at Musgrave Park moves them to third in the table and right back into contention for the knock out stages

It was far from convincing against a resolute Scarlets side but nevertheless impressive for the commitment and courage shown by the home side particularly in the closing stages as they defended their narrow lead.

And if leading by example led to ultimate success on the night then skipper Mick O’Driscoll deserves huge praise. Alongside Billy Holland who continues to impress, he was ever willing to take ball on and lay his body on the line and was involved in all that was good about his side’s effort. Besides him, it would be interesting to see the stats on the tackle count for Jean de Villiers and Tom Gleeson who both were responsible for stemming countless Scarlet forays while James Coughlan capped a fine performance with a try and Scott Deasy at full back fully deserved his Toyota Man of the Match Award.

Scarlets had the perfect start with a try from Rhys Priestland that originated on his own 22 when he blocked an attempted Paul Warwick kick and ran the length of the field to score in the right hand corner. He missed the difficult conversion as Munster gathered under their posts holding a summit meeting with less than three minutes on the new scoreboard.

The response was immediate and Warwick’s conversion of de Villiers try four minutes later gave Munster the lead but Priestland restored Scarlets advantage with a 37th minute penalty.

A late burst of Munster pressure was kicked off by a Warwick penalty two minutes later when Deacon Manu was penalised and yellow carded for a tug on a Munster jersey as they threatened the Scarlets line and in injury time Coughlan had his hard work rewarded with a try close to the posts.

If the second half was less than entertaining it was nevertheless compelling as Scarlets refused to buckle. It ended up being a scoring competition between Warwick and Priestland and if the Welshman won that personal battle 3-2, Munster won the match thanks to those opening half tries and a resolute second half performance.

Munster: S Deasy; D Howlett, T Gleeson, J de Villiers, I Dowling; P Warwick, P Stringer; M Horan, D Varley,J Brugnaut; B Holland, M O’Driscoll capt; N Williams, N Ronan, J Coughlan. Replacements: D Hurley for Howlett (53 mins), D Ryan for Brugnaut, D Fogarty for Varley (both 60 mins), D Williams for Stringer, A Quinlan for N Williams (both 65 mins), T O’Donnell for Ronan (72 mins), J Manning for D Williams (75 mins)

Scarlets: D Newton; J Ajuwa, R King, J Davies, A Fenby; R Priestland, T Knoyle; I Thomas, K Owens, D Manu; L Reed, D Day; J Turnbull, R Pugh, D Lyons (capt). Replacements: P John for Turnbull (40-50 mins), D Evans for Newton (53 mins), R McCusker for Pugh (61 mins), D Evans for R King (67 mins), P John for Owens, M Roberts for Knoyle (both 70 mins)

Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU)

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