Preview: Munster v Dragons

Date published: March 4 2016

Munster coach Anthony Foley makes three changes from the side that defeated Treviso to face Newport-Gwent Dragons.%u200B

Following his Six Nations involvement against England in Twickenham last weekend, Simon Zebo has been made available to the province and will make his first appearance in red since January, while Stephen Archer also makes a welcome return to the matchday squad after successfully overcoming a neck injury that has kept him sidelined since October. Should he make an appearance from the bench, the tighthead will win his 100th Munster cap.

The first of two changes to the pack sees hooker Niall Scannell re-join Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan in the front row. Mark Chisholm and captain Billy Holland continue in the second row while in the back row, Tommy O'Donnell returns at seven with Dave O'Callaghan and Jack O'Donoghue switching to six and eight respectively.

Simon Zebo starts on the left wing in an otherwise unchanged backline. Duncan Williams and Ian Keatley form the half-back partnership and Rory Scannell makes his tenth consecutive start at inside centre in partnering Francis Saili in the midfield.

Winger Darren Sweetnam and full-back Andrew Conway again complete the starting XV.

If called upon from the bench, recent long-term injury returnee Johnny Holland will make his first appearance of the season.

Meanwhile, Dragons’ Director of Rugby, Lyn Jones, has made three changes to the team that narrowly lost out last weekend against Glasgow Warriors. 

The back three have one change made to it as International Hallam Amos returns to the Region. The 21-year-old joins fellow wing Ashton Hewitt and full-back Carl Meyer in the back three. The centre partnership sees Adam Hughes and Adam Warren retain their spots in the team. The half-back pairing has been altered as fly-half Jason Tovey returns from injury to start alongside scrum-half Charlie Davies.

The front row remains unchanged as props Phil Price and Brok Harris join hooker Thomas Rhys Thomas. The young second row or Cory Hill and Matthew Screech, also get the nod from the coaches after impressing last weekend. The back row sees flankers Nick Crosswell and Nic Cudd join number eight Lewis Evans.

The replacements bench has five changes made to it as Elliot Dee, Shaun Knight, Ed Jackson, Sarel Pretorius and Angus O’Brien join Lloyd Fairbrother, Rynard Landman and Ross Wardle.

Form: Munster's only victory in their last five home games in all tournaments was 26-13 against Stade Francais in the Champions Cup on January 16. The Munstermen have lost their last three matches against Welsh regions since they overturned Cardiff Blues in Cork in round four. Newport Gwent Dragons have lost their last four fixtures since beating Leinster 23-13 at Rodney Parade in round 13. The Dragons have lost all eight away games they have played in the PRO12 this season whilst their only away victory over an Irish province since September 2008 was against Leinster at the RDS Arena in February 2015. Dragons beat Munster 22-6 at Rodney Parade in Round 9 and have only once before achieved a season's double over the Munstermen – in 2003/04 when they obtained their one and only victory at Thomond Park.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O'Donoghue, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland (c), 4 Mark Chisholm, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 Johnny Holland, 23 David Johnston.

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Thomas Rhys Thomas (c), 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Shaun Knight, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Rynard Landman, 20 Ed Jackson, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Ross Wardle

Date: Saturday, March 5
Venue: Thomond Park, Limerick
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin, Jonathan Peak (both IRFU)
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)