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Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

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Preview: Munster v Ospreys

Charlie Talbot-Smith 1 Dec 2017

In a re-match of last season’s play-off semi-final, Munster welcome Ospreys to Ireland for their Conference A clash.

What’s at stake? Second in Conference A plays bottom as Munster chase a third win on the spin in the league to keep pace with runaway leaders Glasgow Warriors.

The game takes place at Irish Independent Park and Munster have not been defeated in Cork since Cardiff Blues won there by a single point in Round 2 last season.

Ospreys have won just once in the last eight rounds of the Guinness PRO14: 28-14 at home to Dragons in Round 7, whilst they haven’t won away from home in the league since a trip to Edinburgh on March 3.

Team news (Munster) There are two changes to the side that secured a bonus-point victory away to Zebre last weekend as Ian Keatley and John Ryan return from international duty to start.

That means the majority of Munster’s Irish contingent like CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray are rested with one eye on the return of the European Champions Cup next weekend.

Team news (Ospreys) Ospreys make four changes from the record 47-6 home defeat by Glasgow Warriors last time out.

But with Wales still in action this autumn, they face South Africa on Saturday, Ospreys are still without a host of international stars.

Kieron Fonotia and James Hook come in at centre, with Gareth Thomas coming in at loose-head and Will Jones at openside flanker.

The latter two will be making their first Guinness PRO14 starts while Rowan Jenkins will make his debut if introduced off the bench. Bradley Davies makes his 100th Championship appearance.

Talking points This will be Johan van Graan’s first game on home soil in charge of Munster and he will be keen to put his best foot forward in front of his new fanbase.

Steve Tandy meanwhile knows his side will have to produce something special after last weekend’s humbling at the Liberty Stadium.

“We can’t dwell on it, we have to learn from it and look forward,” he said.

“It’s a cliché maybe, but it’s the reality of where we are this weekend with a short turnaround, the travel and player availability.

“We certainly won’t be sitting in a corner feeling sorry for ourselves. We know we are in a fight and will stick together to do the Ospreys badge justice.”

Key battle Ireland international Ian Keatley returns from international duty having made two appearances during the autumn – both from the replacements bench.

He comes up against Ospreys’ fly-half Sam Davies, a young prospect with another great chance to show what he can do in the absence of Dan Biggar with Wales.

Not just a threat from the tee, Keatley has 1,358 Guinness PRO14 points to his name already, he has also made eight breaks with ball in hand this season.

Davies has 12 successful kicks from 14 attempts in this campaign and is fast approaching 500 points in the Guinness PRO14, he currently sits on 461.

Key stat The Munstermen’s only home defeat in any tournament since September 2016 was to Scarlets at Thomond Park in the Guinness PRO14 in February 2017.

Did you know? Munster’s only defeat in their last seven fixtures with Ospreys was 17-21 in Cork in February 2016.

Munster: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, James Hart; Liam O’Connor, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (C); Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Robin Copeland
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Brian Scott, Stephen Archer, Darren O’Shea, Sean O’Connor, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Calvin Nash

Ospreys: Dan Evans, Hanno Dirksen, Kieron Fonotia, James Hook, Jeff Hassler, Sam Davies, Tom Habberfield, Gareth Thomas, Sam Parry, Dmitri Arhip, Lloyd Ashley, Bradley Davies, Olly Cracknell, Will Jones, James Kings

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Rowan Jenkins, Ma’afu Fia, Rob McCusker, Guy Mercer, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Luke Price, Joe Thomas

Match officials – Referee:  Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

AR1: Ian Davies (WRU)

AR2: Simon Rees (WRU)

TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)

TV: Sky Sports Action, coverage starts at 5:00PM

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Magnificent Munster reign supreme in Cork

Becky Grey 2 Dec 2017

Ian Keatley was near-perfect from the tee as Munster claimed a 36-10 win over Ospreys in their bid to reach the top of Conference A.

The Irish side scored five tries to claim their third league win in a row as they continue to narrow Glasgow Warriors’ lead at the top of the table.

New head coach Johann van Graan’s first game on home soil with Munster could hardly have begun better as Sam Arnold, Darren Sweetnam, Chris Cloete and Rory Scannell all dotted down in the first half.

Jeff Hassler and Will Jones’ tries gave Ospreys some consolation, but they could not prevent the Welsh team suffering another away defeat.

Keatley was given an early chance to take the home side ahead when Ospreys were penalised at the breakdown and it would be the first successful kick of many.

Will Jones, making his first Guinness PRO14 start, saw yellow for a tackle on Cloete and Munster took full advantage as Ospreys went down to 14 men.

James Hart’s box kick saw the Irish side up to the 22 and Sam Arnold was the man to finish off the move to claim their first five points.

Munster’s kicking game saw them over the whitewash once more, as Keatley booted the ball up field, putting the side in a perfect attacking position.

The fly-half found Sweetnam, who sent the ball to Cloete and the South African gave a basketball pass back to send him over, with Keatley converting for a second time.

Cloete himself dotted down with a pick and go shortly after, with Keatley adding an impressive two points from the touchline.

Ospreys managed to reduce the deficit slightly when Jeff Hassler went over in the corner, but Munster looked comfortable as they went in 24-5 at the break.

Rowan Jenkins made his debut for the Welsh side when he came on in the 42nd minute and it was a baptism of fire as Scannell scored a minute later.

The Irishman’s show and go saw him cross for the second week in a row and the 23-year-old continued to contribute with some perfectly weighted kicks.

Scannell’s boot brought Munster up to Osprey’s 5m line and Jack O’Donoghue prospered from the move, dotting down in the corner.

Keatley missed the conversion, his first mistake from the tee all night and Ospreys soon began to increase the pressure after a break from Hassler.

The tables turned as Jones got the chance to make the most of a reduced Munster defence after O’Donoghue received a yellow card.

Ospreys built up the phases and the flanker eventually managed to find a gap to claw back five more points.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138