Munster welcome Glasgow Warriors to Thomond Park as Guinness Pro14 action resumes following the European break.
The Warriors have made an excellent start in Conference A as five wins from a possible six sees them top the early-season standings.
Munster, meanwhile, will hope that home advantage proves key; their visitors are winless in Limerick in four-and-a-half years and each of the last four fixtures between the two sides have all gone the way of the hosts.
What’s at stake?
Three wins and three defeats have left the Munstermen in fourth in the early stages of the season, so a win would be an excellent statement of intent.
They will look to build on their comprehensive Champions Cup win versus Gloucester last week.
Glasgow’s recent record against Irish sides is very good with just two defeats in their last eight, albeit both of those came away from Scotstoun, and one was against Munster.
Team news (Munster): There are seven changes in total as Peter O’Mahony captains the team and Keith Earls returns a week after Munster secured a bonus-point win against Gloucester in the Champions Cup.
Sammy Arnold is included having been named in the Ireland squad for the first time earlier this week with Alby Mathewson and JJ Hanrahan also coming in to form a new half-back partnership.
The three final changes are in the pack with hooker Niall Scannell returning from a knock while Billy Holland and Chris Cloete are also included.
CJ Stander starts at the base of the scrum and is set to make his 120th appearance for the province.
TEAM STORY | Chris Fusaro is set to make his 150th appearance for the club against Munster tomorrow night.
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) October 26, 2018
Team news (Glasgow Warriors): Glasgow include five of the 16 players in Scotland’s squad for the Autumn internationals, as brothers George and Pete Horne partner each other at scrum and fly-half respectively.
Sam Johnson returns at centre while there are starts for both Rob Harley and Matt Fagerson in the pack.
There is also a first start for former Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy hooker Grant Stewart.
Meanwhile, Chris Fusaro will become the ninth Warriors player to reach 150 appearances if he comes off the replacements bench.
Talking points: Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie said: “Fuzzy (Chris Fusaro) embodies everything that’s great about this club, he’s a true Warrior. He’s competitive and hardworking as well as being a ferocious player on the park and we’re all rapt to see him deservedly reach this milestone.
“Last season we fronted up against Munster at home but we were out muscled when we travelled to Ireland for the reverse leg. That’s our challenge this weekend.
“They’re such a tough side as they’ve shown over the past couple of weeks in Europe against quality opposition.”
Key battle: Peter O’Mahony v Callum Gibbins
Both skippers will be head to head in the scrum as Peter O’Mahony lines up at blindside flanker for Munster and Callum Gibbins at openside flanker for Glasgow. Their input at the set piece and elsewhere could be decisive.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) October 26, 2018
Each of the last three meetings have been decided by margins of more than two scores so how each pack fares will be pivotal at Thomond Park.
Key stat: The Munstermen are unbeaten in their last twelve home games in all tournaments since Leinster beat them at Thomond Park last December.
Did you know? This game will be the 2000th match in the history of the Championship since the first kicked off between Bridgend and Pontypridd at Brewery Field on 17 August 2001.
Munster: Mike Haley, Andrew Conway, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls, JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Arno Botha, Neil Cronin, Ian Keatley, Darren Sweetnam.
Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, D.T.H. van der Merwe, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Rory Hughes, Pete Horne, George Horne; Oli Kebble, Grant Stewart, D’Arcy Rae, Rob Harley, Scott Cummings, Adam Ashe, Callum Gibbins (C), Matt Fagerson
Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Jamie Bhatti, Petrus du Plessis, Greg Peterson, Chris Fusaro, Nick Frisby, Brandon Thomson, Niko Matawalu
TV: Live on Premier Sports and Eir Sport 1
Referee: Dan Jones (WRU, 18th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Elgan WIlliams (WRU), Chris Busby (IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Eddie Walsh (IRFU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)
Rory Scannell’s incredible last-gasp penalty completed a remarkable comeback for Munster in the Guinness PRO14’s 2000th match.
In a fitting way to bring up the milestone, Scannell’s penalty capped off a thrilling contest which saw the Warriors open up a 14-point lead thanks to two George Horne tries.
But Alex Wootton and Alby Mathewson whittled it down to two, leaving Scannell to take the plaudits at the death.
The result sees Munster move back into contention in Conference A after falling to fifth before the European break.
After a busy European period, a return to domestic action provided the players with another opportunity to sharpen up before the autumn internationals.
Munster were boosted by the return of wing Keith Earls, while Glasgow made eight changes to the side which beat Cardiff Blues in the Champions Cup – including a start for Horne.
The home side started quickly, playing at a ferocious pace – helped by a superb Earls break into the Warriors 22.
And that led to the first try of the match, with James Cronin powering over from close range with the help of John Ryan following some impressive work from the forwards.
But the Warriors hit back in style in the 24th minute. Opting to run from their own 22, Rory Hughes floated a superb pass out wide and that created space for their backs to run into.
A couple of neat passes later and Horne was away, sprinting for the corner and sliding in to score.
The scrum-half did it again before the break, Nick Grigg picking a clever line off the left to receive the ball and he burst through before slipping a pass for Horne to run clear.
With just two defeats from their last eight matches against Irish provinces, the Warriors were noticeably confident and they scored a third try after the break – with Matt Fagerson picking up a loose ball off the back of a scrum and diving over.
JJ Hanrahan almost cut that gap with a scything run through the Warriors defence but he was held up just short.
The fly-half did reduce the deficit to three with a penalty following a scrum infringement but Glasgow brought up the bonus point in style as Peter Horne chipped ahead for brother George to touch down.
Munster got back into it when Wootton burst through to score in the corner, before scrum-half Mathewson threw a dummy pass and dived over from three metres out. Ian Keatley kicked the conversion to reduce the gap to two points.
And Scannell completed the comeback with a long-range penalty with the last kick of the game.