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Murray And Varley Start For Munster

January 10, 2014 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Murray And Varley Start For Munster

Rob Penney has made six changes to the side beaten by Ulster last weekend with Conor Murray the most notable inclusion as Munster travel to Gloucester for a crucial Heineken Cup clash tomorrow night (ko 6pm).

Murray is set to win his 50th cap in his first appearance since injuring his knee against Perpignan five weeks ago.

Hooker Damien Varley retains his place in the starting XV despite limping off at Ravenhill with a foot injury but it's not as bad as first feared and Varley is fit to start.

Aside from Murray, there are three other changes in the backs with Keith Earls, Johne Murphy and James Downey all returning to the side.

Earls is back on the right wing after missing out last week with a bruised shoulder with Downey, who missed out with an irritated groin, returning to partner Casey Laulala in the centres.

Murphy comes into the side on the left wing with out-half Ian Keatley and full-back Felix Jones keeping their places in the starting XV.

There are two changes in the forwards as BJ Botha and Dave Foley are drafted into the pack. It will be a a big day for Tipperary man Foley as it is his first appearance in the Heineken Cup.

Penney has gone for an international front row with props Dave Kilcoyne and South African Botha either side of Varley.

Foley is included after impressing off the bench against Ulster last weekend and he partners Ireland captain Paul O’Connell in the second row.

The back row remains unchanged with Munster captain Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell and James Coughlan in good form heading into tomorrow’s Kingsholm encounter.

Simon Zebo is named on the bench as he returns to the squad for the first time since cracking a bone in his foot against Edinburgh in October.

Donncha O'Callaghan and JJ Hanrahan are also amongst the replacements after their recent injury issues.

Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Johne Murphy; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Dave Foley, Paul O'Connell; Peter O'Mahony (Capt.), Tommy O'Donnell, James Coughlan. Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Donncha O'Callaghan, CJ Stander, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Simon Zebo.

Munster's game against Gloucester kicks off at 6pm on Saturday and will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Following the trip to Kingsholm, Munster will host Edinburgh at Thomond Park on Sunday week in their final pool game of this season's Heineken Cup and tickets are available here (ko 12:45pm).

Munster A

Munster A face Nottingham at St. Mary’s RFC tonight and one change has been made to the side announced yesterday. Darren Sweetnam replaces Andrew Conway on the wing, the decision was made as a precautionary measure by the management and medical team after Conway felt tightness in his groin after training yesterday.

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Quarter Final Place Secured

January 12, 2014 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Quarter Final Place Secured

Munster have qualified for their fifteenth Heineken Cup quarter final after defeating Gloucester 20 points to 7 at Kingsholm.

Munster produced an impressive defensive display in keeping the cherry and whites at bay and the non-stop action was matched by the vocal support from the stands, terraces and shed, appropriately renamed the “red shed” by the Munster gathering for the sold out encounter.

In the opening minutes Gloucester were first to attack with Dan Robson opting for the kick and chase down the right wing but Ian Keatley did well to sprint back and deny an early score for the home-side.

Munster powered back with a dominant scrum on the half-way mark and Keatley kicked for territory. From the Munster lineout Conor Murray put boot to ball with Johne Murphy chasing, but Gloucester winger Charlie Sharples was on hand to claim the bounce and was quick to counter-attack advancing back into Munster’s half.

Referee Leighton Hodges awarded a penalty to the home-side but Billy Twelvetrees missed with his opening chance after 10 minutes.

Keatley returned with a cross field kick which released Earls sprinting down the touchline but fullback Martyn Thomas was quick to react and Earls bundled him straight into touch for the lineout. The resulting pressure led to an opening penalty chance and the out-half kicked Munster’s first points after 20 minutes.

Two minutes later Gloucester were awarded their second penalty chance when Munster were pinged for not releasing but the England centre was once again off target and Munster still led by 3.

The Gloucester line was finally broken after a period of Munster pressure with Keatley again involved. He dinked a grubber kick through the English side’s defence and this time Keith Earls pounced on it. With the extras added Munster led 10 nil after 32 minutes.

The high speed tempo continued and Gloucester took advantage when Munster failed to ship the ball in the closing stages of the opening half. The half-time margin was reduced to 3 points when Charlie Sharples weaved his way through the Munster defence and Freddie Burns added the conversion.

Gloucester opened the second half in a similar vein to the opening half, sending waves of attack at Munster’s line. They continued with their attacking form and sought to batter the Munster line with physicality and direct running. But Munster sustained the pressure and continued to turnover possession with the choke tackle working particularly well, and the Munster wingers bundling Gloucester attackers into touch at crucial times.

Peter O’Mahony and Paul O’Connell inspired an immense performance from the pack, whose work rate never faltered despite a frenetic pace. The pack were rewarded with some great pressure on Gloucester’s set piece at 58 minutes, releasing Conor Murray with a great break deep into Gloucester territory.

The pack once again built the phases and it was captain Peter O’Mahony who dived over for Munster’s second try, the TMO confirming the score with Keatley adding the extras to give Munster a ten point cushion going into the final 20 minutes.

With 10 minutes remaining Keatley added the final score when kicking his 2nd penalty after a Gloucester infringement. Rob Penney capped the win by emptying the bench in the final minutes, including a return to action for Simon Zebo for the first time since October.

Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls (JJ Hanrahan 70), Casey Laulala, James Downey, Johne Murphy (Simon Zebo 68); Ian Keatley, Conor Murray (Duncan Williams 76); Dave Kilcoyne (James Cronin 64), Damien Varley (Duncan Casey 78), BJ Botha (Stephen Archer 68); Dave Foley (Donncha O’Callaghan 68), Paul O'Connell; Peter O'Mahony Capt. (CJ Stander 76), Tommy O'Donnell, James Coughlan.

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