Preview: Munster v Scarlets

Date published: May 6 2016

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For the first time this season head coach Anthony Foley names an unchanged side as Munster bid to secure Champions Cup qualification in Round 22 of the PRO12. 

The game marks a milestone in the career of Dave Kilcoyne who will win his 100th cap for the province when starting alongside Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer in the front row.

Dave Foley and Billy Holland continue in the second row with the back row trio of Dave O'Callaghan,Tommy O'Donnell and captain CJ Stander – this week historically named IRUPA Players' Player of the Year and Supporters' Player of the Year – again completing the pack.

Conor Murray and Johnny Holland take charge at half-back with Rory Scannell in line to make his final appearance as an academy player.

The centre who progresses to the senior squad in July will make his 20th PRO12 appearance of the season in starting alongside Francis Saili in midfield.

Keith Earls and Andrew Conway are again named on the wings with this season's joint top try scorer Simon Zebo – alongside Mike Sherry – remaining at full-back.

Munster need two points from this game to secure Champions Cup rugby in 2016/17, anything less and they could open the door for Ospreys.

Meanwhile, Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac has been forced to make three changes to last week’s starting line-up due to injuries with Gareth Owen, Peter Edwards and Steff Hughes drafted into the starting XV to replace Michael Collins, Samson Lee and Scott Williams.

Collins and Lee suffered hamstring and concussion injuries respectively in last Saturday’s victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at the Principality Stadium.

The side will also be without vice-captain Williams who suffered a hamstring strain in a training session earlier this week having made his first regional appearance of the season last weekend.   

Owen, who earlier this week signed a contract extension to remain at the region, has been named on the wing with Liam Williams moving to his preferred fullback position. 

Edwards comes in to the front row, alongside captain Ken Owens and international loosehead Rob Evans, for the mammoth challenge at Thomond Park on Saturday. 

The Scarlets will hope to secure a victory in the final game of the regular PRO12 season to keep hopes of a play-off spot alive.  Scarlets will also be keeping a keen eye on the score, and result, at the Liberty Stadium as Ospreys welcome fourth place Ulster.

Speaking earlier this week Pivac said: “We’ve talked about the scenarios, in relation to our match and Ulster’s match with Ospreys. We’re going with focus of a quarter final, it’s a must win match if we’re to progress without worrying too much about other matches. 

“We’ll take the same approach as last week, get out there and focus on the performance and everything else should fall in to place.”

Form: The Munstermen's last six games have been won by the home side on the day, whilst they have not been defeated in Limerick since 27 December. Scarlets require as many points as possible to give themselves a shot at a Play-Off spot for the first time since season 2012/13. Scarlets "Judgement day" victory over Dragons ended a two game losing streak, with their last four encounters all being won by the away side on the day. Scarlets only defeat in their last four fixtures against Munster was at Thomond Park in this equivalent fixture in round 6 last year. The Welshmen's only previous victory in Limerick was in September 2003.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Johnny Holland, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander (c), 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 James Cronin, 18 John Ryan, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Jack O'Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Ronan O'Mahony

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Gareth Owen, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadeigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans 10 Steve Shingler 9 Aled Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Lewis Rawlins, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Peter Edwards, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Tom Price, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Michael Tagicakibau

Date: Saturday, May 7
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Venue: Thomond Park
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: TBC
TMO: TBC

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