Preview: Munster v Sale

Date published: January 23 2015

Munster are already out of the competition but there is a great deal of pride to play for in this final pool game at Thomond Park.

When the two sides met in round one, it took a last-gasp Ian Keatley drop goal to hand Munster the away win, but three successive defeats against Clermont, twice, and Saracens, last weekend, put paid to their challenge.

Still, Clermont became only the third team to win a European game at Thomond Park, and Munster will be desperate to ensure Sale don’t join that illustrious list.

The English side have been unfortunate to lose all five of their games so far, with a third home defeat from three last time out when Clermont outlasted them in Manchester.

If they are to avoid a winless campaign, they will need to spring a surprise, but with the likes of Danny Cipriani and Chris Cusiter rested, their focus is clearly elsewhere.

Munster have also made changes from last week, with Peter O’Mahony shifting to number eight in place of the injured CJ Stander.

Simon Zebo moves across to full-back, with Ronan O’Mahony getting a start on the wing, while Keith Earls starts in the centres as he continues his comeback from injury.

Form: Munster have won four in a row against Sale, with their two home matches in this run both resulting in points margins of over 20 points. Sale Sharks have lost nine of their last 10 away games; these losses have come by an average margin of 22 points. Munster suffered defeat in their most recent home game in the tournament (9-16 to Clermont), however they won all eight home games before that by an average margin of 22 points. Sale lost 22-13 at home to Clermont last week while Munster went down 33-10 away to Saracens.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Ronan O’Mahony, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Peter O’Mahony (c), 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Dave O’Callaghan, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Dave Foley, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 John Ryan, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Ivan Dineen, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Pat Howard

Sale Sharks: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Will Addison, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Nick MacLeod, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Vili Fihaki, 7 David Seymour (c), 6 Mark Easter, 5 Josh Beaumont, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Ross Harrison, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Alberto de Marchi
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 James Flynn, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 George Nott, 20 Andrew Hughes, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Andy Forsyth

Date: Sunday, 25 January
Venue: Thomond Park
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Patrick Pechambert (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)