Preview: Munster v Ospreys

Date published: February 12 2016

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Munster Head Coach Anthony Foley has made four changes to his side that defeated Zebre for Sunday's clash with the Ospreys at Irish Independent Park in Cork.
 
Three of those changes are seen in the pack with Dave Kilcoyne and Mike Sherry returning to the front row alongside John Ryan who remains at tighthead.
 
No change in the second row with Dave Foley again partnering Mark Chisholm while Dave O'Callaghan makes his first start since returning from an adductor injury at openside.

Billy Holland remains as captain and blindside flanker with Jack O'Donoghue making the positional switch to number eight for the first time this season.
 
The only change across the back-line comes at scrum-half with Duncan Williams returning to partner Ian Keatley in the half-backs.
 
Rory Scannell and Francis Saili form the centre partnership for the seventh consecutive game with wingers Ronan O'Mahony and Darren Sweetnam and full-back Andrew Conway all retaining their starting positions.
 
Development prop and product of the Munster Clubs pathway Peter McCabe is included in his first PRO12 squad after being named amongst the replacements.

Meanwhile, new Ospreys recruit, Springbok centre JJ Engelbrecht will make his first start for the Welsh region.

Engelbrecht comes in to the run-on side at outside centre for Owen Watkin in one of two changes to the side that srew with Glasgow Warriors last weekend.

The only other change to the starting XV is on the left wing where Ben John takes over from Eli Walker.

Ospreys Head Coach, Steve Tandy, said: "We know the size of the challenge ahead o if we are going to close the gap on the teams above us and we understand what we've got to do collectively, starting this weekend.

"Make no mistake about it we are still in this race. The PRO12 is tighter than ever and we know that with results this season showing that everybody is capable of beating each other, there is everything left to play for. 

"Anything can happen and you can expect to see plenty of movement in the table over the next few weeks as results go one way then another.

"For us it's about us looking at the remaining fixtures as nine battles that we've got to be up for week by week if we are going to achieve our overall aim, starting in Cork on Sunday against the team who are one place above us. 

"We've got an exciting young group who are growing in our environment and getting some miles on the clock at the sharp end. They understand what is expected of them within our culture, are striving for excellence and are relentless in what they do. 

"With experience around them in key positions that's a good mix and the boys are looking forward to the challenge.

"Every point counts now, starting on Sunday, so we know what we've got to do.”

Form: Munster have won their last three games since their 7-27 defeat at Stade Francais in the European Champions Cup on 9 January. The Munstermen have lost their last two home games in the PRO12 to Connacht and Leinster, but they were both played at Thomond Park, however in Cork they have won a dozen in a row since Cardiff Blues beat them there over three years ago. Ospreys two most recent encounters in the PRO12 were both at Liberty Stadium and ended in a defeat to Leinster and a draw with Glasgow Warriors. Away from home in the tournament their only defeat in their last four fixtures came on a trip to Glasgow in November. Munster have won their last two clashes with Ospreys – last season’s semi-final in Limerick and the Round 2 meeting at Liberty Stadium. Ospreys have visited Irish Independent Park on four previous occasions, all between 2004 and 2008, with their only victory being 18-15 on their inaugural trip in February 2004. 

The teams:

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O'Donoghue. 7 Dave O'Callaghan, 6 Billy Holland (c), 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Dave Foley, 3 John Ryan, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne. 
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Mario Sagario, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Shane Buckley, 21 Tomás O'Leary, 22 Cian Bohane, 23 David Johnston

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Tom Grabham, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Ben John, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Brendon Leonard (c), 8 Dan Baker, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Ma'afu Fia, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Owen Watkin, 23 Tom Habberfield

Date: Sunday, February 14
Venue: Irish Independent Park
Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Jonathan Peak (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

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