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Team Named | Munster Side To Face Exeter Chiefs At Sandy Park

April 8, 2022 11:49 am By The Editor

John Hodnett starts in the back row for Munster.

John Hodnett starts in the back row for Munster. Inpho

The Munster side has been named ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup round of 16 first leg clash against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park (5.30pm).

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

Buy match tickets for the return fixture at Thomond Park on Saturday week at 3pm here.

Jack O’Donoghue captains the province in the Champions Cup for the first time with eight changes to the side that faced Leinster last week.

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy member Alex Kendellen starts in Europe for the first time at no.8 on his 14th appearance of the campaign.

Mike Haley, Keith Earls, Simon Zebo and Jean Kleyn all return to the starting XV after recent knocks with Ben Healy also coming into the starting XV.

Jack O’Donoghue, John Hodnett and Alex Kendellen form a new-look back row.

Haley, Earls and Zebo start in the back three with the centre partnership of Damian de Allende and Chris Farrell unchanged as Conor Murray and Ben Healy start in the half-backs.

Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer keep their places in the front row with Kleyn and Fineen Wycherley starting in the engine room.

Thomas Ahern is in line to make his Champions Cup debut off the bench.

On the injury front, Peter O’Mahony and Joey Carbery were both unavailable for selection.

A hamstring complaint has ruled out O’Mahony with the Munster captain to be reassessed on Monday ahead of the return fixture at Thomond Park.

Carbery presented with a low-grade leg/knee injury following the Leinster clash but is expected to make his return to full training on Monday.

Gavin Coombes has undergone surgery on the ankle injury he suffered against Leinster and has been ruled out until May.

Munster: Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Simon Zebo; Ben Healy, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (C), John Hodnett, Alex Kendellen.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Jason Jenkins, Thomas Ahern, Craig Casey, Rory Scannell, Jack O’Sullivan.

Press Pass

Hear from Senior Coach Stephen Larkham and Peter O’Mahony as they spoke to the media on Tuesday ahead of the clash.

Munster - Match Page - Lineups - Preview

Report | Exeter Take 13-8 Advantage To Thomond

April 9, 2022 8:03 pm By The Editor

Shane Daly races down the left wing on his way to scoring the Munster try.

Shane Daly races down the left wing on his way to scoring the Munster try. Inpho

Munster and Exeter Chiefs are set up for a massive Champions Cup round of 16 second leg at Thomond Park on Saturday at 3pm after an epic encounter at Sandy Park.

Match tickets are available here.

Exeter will hold a five-point advantage after securing a deserved 13-8 victory in the first leg on Saturday afternoon.

Shane Daly, a late addition to the side after Simon Zebo pulled out through illness, scored his first Champions Cup try with Ben Healy kicking a penalty.

The score was 10-0 in Exeter’s favour at half-time with superb Munster defence preventing the scoreline from being even more lopsided.

The province were far better after the interval with Exeter reduced to 13 men at one stage in a topsy-turvy encounter.

It was the turn of Exeter’s defence to thwart Munster in the final quarter before a late Exeter surge nearly yielded a third try but both sides had to settle for a 13-8 result.

Exeter led through a Stuart Hogg try with just six minutes played after Tom O’Flaherty sliced through midfield following an Exeter quick tap on the left wing.

Exeter were counter-rucking very effectively and won a number of turnovers in the opening quarter to prevent Munster from building any momentum.

John Hodnett came up with a big jackal on 17 minutes in the Munster 22 before Alex Kendellen, on his first European start, was harshly pinged at the breakdown on 23 minutes with Exeter going to the corner.

The hosts mauled their way to the line and Jack Yeandle looked certain to score but Conor Murray made a crucial intervention to force the knock-on inches from the line.

Munster’s best attack of the half came when Jack O’Donoghue robbed Exeter at the breakdown and Shane Daly collected his own chip and chase but Munster were pinged at the breakdown as they went through the phases.

Huge maul defence then kept Exeter out at the other end before Jack O’Sullivan, who replaced Kendellen after 28 minutes, was yellow-carded for persistent Munster breakdown infringements.

Exeter took advantage before the break with Jacques Vermeulen scoring from close range to make it 10-0 at the half.

Munster started the second half still down to 14 and Shane Daly intercepted a pass meant for Olly Woodburn as Exeter looked threatening.

An Exeter scrum penalty allowed the hosts to kick into the corner but Munster survived again with O’Donoghue coming up with another huge steal to survive the sin-binning period as O’Sullivan returned.

Murray was the next man to come up with a vital jackal to win Munster the penalty yards from our own line.

A Munster high tackle gave Exeter yet another opportunity to go for the corner but their lineout misfired and Fineen Wycherley won the ball for Murray to clear.

O’Sullivan came up with a big jackal on Stuart Hogg to give Munster a rare attacking opportunity with Healy kicking into the Exeter 22 but the hosts spoiled the lineout.

A high tackle from Ian Whitten on Murray gave Munster another chance and when Exeter were penalised for offside, Healy kicked Munster’s first points to make it 10-3 after 56 minutes.

A Hodnett jackal on 59 minutes won an important penalty with Exeter’s Woodburn yellow-carded for an illegal clearout on Niall Scannell.

Exeter were down to 13 on 60 minutes when Patrick Schickerling stripped the ball from Jeremy Loughman on the ground with Munster looking dangerous.

Munster, however, were pinged for obstruction off the five-metre lineout and then O’Donoghue was harshly pinged at the lineout to give 13-man Exeter a lineout deep in Munster territory.

The Munster maul defence held up Exeter but Hogg landed a monster drop-goal from Healy’s goal-line drop-out to move Exeter 13-3 ahead.

Munster made the two-man advantage pay on 66 minutes when Daly finished superbly in the left corner. There was a TMO check for a knock-on as Damian de Allende’s pass to Earls early in the move was nearly intercepted but the try stood with Farrell giving the scoring pass.

Healy was unable to add the conversion and Munster trailed 13-8.

Craig Casey dived for the line but was just short on 70 minutes but it was a Munster advantage for an Exeter offside as Woodburn returned with Exeter back to 14.

A huge rearguard effort from the Chiefs then repelled Munster as the game entered the final 10 minutes to preserve their 13-8 advantage and return to 15 men.

A late Exeter charge nearly yielded a third try but Earls and Chris Farrell prevented what looked like a certain try for Woodburn in the right corner with Earls tackling and Farrell dislodging the ball.

Exeter had the penalty advantage, however, and kicked to the corner but more crucial maul defence held the ball up over the line to signal full-time of an intense encounter.

Champions Cup Round of 16 1st Leg Round-Up

Shane Daly and Academy hooker Scott Buckley were drafted into the squad after Simon Zebo and Diarmuid Barron had to withdraw due to acute gastro.

Jack O’Donoghue captained Munster in the Champions Cup for the first time.

Academy back-row forward Alex Kendellen made his first Champions Cup start but had to be replaced after 28 minutes.

Munster: Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; Ben Healy, Conor Murray (Craig Casey, 63); Jeremy Loughman (Josh Wycherley, 63), Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer (John Ryan, 49); Jean Kleyn (Thomas Ahern, 63), Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (C), John Hodnett (Jason Jenkins, 73), Alex Kendellen (Jack O’Sullivan, 28).

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