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Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

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Preview: Munster v Edinburgh

Andy Baber 4 May 2018
Dan Goggin is tackled into touch by Chris Dean and Dougie Fife

Second in Conference A welcomes third in Conference B as Munster take on Edinburgh in the first Guinness PRO14 semi-final qualifier at Thomond Park.

The hosts are coming off the back of a 24-all draw against Ulster in their final game of the regular season, while Edinburgh beat Glasgow Warriors to book their place in the Final Series.

What’s at stake?

The winner of Munster against Edinburgh will progress to the semi-finals, where a trip to Champions Cup finalists Leinster at the RDS Arena awaits.

Munster remain on course to avenge their defeat in last season’s final against Scarlets, but Richard Cockerill’s side will be no pushovers having come out on top in their last meeting.

Duhan van der Merwe scored two tries as Edinburgh beat Munster in a scrappy encounter at Murrayfield in March, with the Irish province struggling in attack.

However, Johann van Graan’s side have the better head-to-head record, winning 24 of their 31 meetings and scoring 44 tries to Edinburgh’s 19.

Team news (Munster)

The Munster head coach has made 12 changes from the side that drew with Ulster as Simon Zebo starts at full-back in his final game for the club at Thomond Park.

Keith Earls and Andrew Conway start on either flank, with Rory Scannell returning to the side at inside centre as the club’s Young Player of the Year Sammy Arnold keeps his place.

JJ Hanrahan is also retained at fly-half and is partnered by Conor Murray in the half-backs, while James Cronin starts at loosehead as Rhys Marshall and Stephen Archer both return to the side.

Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland are back in the engine room with captain Peter O’Mahony, Jack O’Donoghue and CJ Stander making up the back row.

 

Team news (Edinburgh)

Chris Dean returns from injury to the midfield after missing last weekend’s 1872 Cup, starting alongside Scotland international Mark Bennett who gets the nod at outside centre.

Full-back Blair Kinghorn has recovered from illness and is named in the starting XV, while Dougie Fife returns to the wing alongside South African star van der Merwe.

Jaco van der Walt and scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne are once again named as the half-back pairing, with props Jordan Lay and Simon Berghan pack down either side of captain Stuart McInally in an unchanged front-row.

Scotland internationals Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist continue in the second-row, while Fijian star Bill Mata features alongside Magnus Bradbury and Jamie Ritchie in the back-row.

Talking points

Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan said: “Certainly, we’ve got a plan and we’ll try and execute that as best we can. All we’re focused on is Saturday at quarter past three.

“They’ve got a quality coach, I think he’s one of the best coaches in the world. They’ve got a lot of belief and they’ve got a very simple plan, so I think they’ll come here with nothing to lose.

“From our side we hope we start well and apply some pressure and we hope we can put some points on the board.”

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said: “It’s going to be a big day for us and we have earned the right to be there – the league table doesn’t lie.

“We know if we play at our best, we will give ourselves opportunities to beat Munster.

“The chances are that they should win, however, they are at home and have just dropped out of Europe, so there is a bit of pressure on them.”

 

Key battle – Conor Murray v Sam Hidalgo-Clyne

Conor Murray has been an increasingly key figure under van Graan, setting the pace of the Munster attack as well as providing a long-range goal-kicking threat.

His opposite number, who will join Scarlets at the end of the season, has been at his dangerous best recently and his sniping runs could prove crucial to unlocking Munster.

Key fact: Munster are unbeaten in their last four Guinness PRO14 clashes and are looking for their fourth title – and a first since 2010/11

Did you know? Edinburgh have won on both of their visits to Irish provinces in 2018 and finished the regular season with 15 victories to their name

Munster: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (C), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander

Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, Ciaran Parker, Gerbrandt Grobler, Robin Copeland, James Hart, Ian Keatley, Darren Sweetnam

Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn; Dougie Fife, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Jordan Lay, Stuart McInally (C), Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Bill Mata

Replacements: Neil Cochrane, Allan Dell, WP Nel, Lewis Carmichael, Cornell du Preez, Nathan Fowles, Duncan Weir, James Johnstone

TV: TG4, Sky Sports, BBC Alba

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)

AR1: Ben Whitehouse (WRU) AR2: Ian Davies (WRU)

TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €50 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visithttp://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Departing Zebo inspires Munster into Guinness PRO14 Semi-Finals

Luke Baker 5 May 2018

Simon Zebo marked his final appearance at Thomond Park in style by creating the crucial try as Munster set up a mouth-watering Guinness PRO14 Semi-Final with Leinster by edging past Edinburgh.

The first ever Guinness PRO14 Semi-Final Qualifier went down to the wire but the Irish side held off their Scottish visitors 20-16 to book a visit to the RDS Arena in a fortnight’s time.

Rhys Marshall pinched an overthrown lineout and crashed over early on to put Munster ahead and although a pair of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne penalties kept Edinburgh in touch, Zebo’s audacious chip and mammoth pass put Ireland team-mate Keith Earls over in the corner.

From 17-6 down, replacement scrum-half Nathan Fowles’ sniping try got the Scots back in contention but a penalty gave Munster some breathing space and they repelled late pressure to keep their quest for a first title since the 2010/11 season on track.

After a cagey opening, it was Munster who struck first in the Limerick sunshine on eight minutes.

JJ Hanrahan powered a kick to touch deep in the Edinburgh 22 and Scotland hooker Stuart McInally overthrew the lineout, allowing opposite number Marshall to catch the ball, barrel through a couple of tackles and reach out to dot down.

The Irish province are the worst in the Guinness PRO14 from the kicking tee – sporting just a 68 per cent success rate – but Hanrahan nailed the conversion from out wide to extend the advantage to 7-0.

Falling behind seemed to spark Edinburgh into life as DTH van der Merwe and Mark Bennett sliced through the home defence and got their side within five metres of the line, before a knock-on under the posts saw the opportunity squandered.

A pair of Hidalgo-Clyne penalties – the second after James Cronin was pinged for putting his hands in the ruck – narrowed the gap to 7-6, while Hanrahan failed to take advantage of the Munster pack earning a 27th-minute scrum penalty as his kick drifted wide.

With exciting full-back Blair Kinghorn dancing past Munster defenders at will, Edinburgh were dominating and looked a threat to score every time they attacked but the hosts held on to reach half-time with a one-point lead.

And early in the second period they extended that advantage in style. Zebo – on his final appearance at Thomond Park before departing for Racing 92 in the summer – seized upon a loose ball, dinked ahead and collected his own chip before producing a raking pass to Earls on the left touchline, where the speedster turned on the jets to dot down in the corner; Hanrahan again slotting the tricky conversion.

Munster were beginning to dominate at the breakdown and when Jaco van der Walt was caught on the wrong side, Hanrahan increased the lead to 17-6 from the tee.

A Hidalgo-Clyne three-pointer, his final action before being replaced by Fowles, shortly after kept Edinburgh in touch and Fowles showed his nose for the try-line with 20 minutes remaining to get the visitors right back into the contest.

Firstly Viliame Mata, then Kinghorn made big gains before the scum-half sniped off the base of the ruck and held off the chasing defender to slide over.

It was a different kicker but the same result as van der Walt bisected the uprights to close the gap to a single point and set up an enthralling final quarter.

A 72nd-minute Hanrahan penalty gave the hosts slightly more of a cushion at 20-16 and they held off late pressure to seal a Semi-Final with old rivals Leinster.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €50 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visithttp://www.dublin7sfestival.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