Planet Rugby

Preview: Munster v Harlequins

29th April 2011 13:36

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Munster fans

Tough place to visit: Munster are near-unstoppable at Thomond

Harlequins face the daunting task of travelling to European giants Munster in Sunday's Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final at Thomond Park.

Munster have lost just one European game in 16 seasons at Thomond Park, making the Magners League leaders and two-time Heineken Cup champions will be overwhelming favourites in front of an expected sell-out crowd of 26,000.

The Red Army are aiming for their fifth European final after finished runners-up to Toulon in Pool 3 of the Heineken Cup but secured themselves qualification through to the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals where they beat Brive in a festival of tries in the South of France.

They come into the last four tie on the back on a moral boasting win over the Ospreys in South Wales last weekend.

Harlequins are two-time winners of the Challenge and are loooking to add a third title after dominated their European Pool and beating compatriots London Wasps at the Stoop in their quarter-final clash.

They come into the game full of confidence following two wins on the bounce in the Premiership.

In team news, Munster coach Tony McGahan has made just one change in personnel from the XV that started against Brive.

That sole change comes in the backline where Paul Warwick partners Lifeimi Mafi in the centre, with Mafi's partner that day in Brive, Sam Tuitupou, named on a bench that includes Paul O'Connell.

O'Connell wasn't named in the extended squad announced on Wednesday as McGahan waited to see how the squad captain came through what was only his second full contact session on Thursday since picking up the ankle injury against Leinster a month ago.

As it transpired, O'Connell showed no ill effects from his exertions and not surprisingly is included on a particularly strong looking bench alongside Marcus Horan, John Hayes and Peter Stringer who between them have over 600 Munster caps.

"We thought it prudent to omit Paul from the original squad until we saw how he came through what was only his second serious workout (yesterday) since sustaining the injury," McGahan told the Munster website.

Meanwhile, there are no changes to theHarlquins side that in five tries away in against Leeds on Easter Sunday as

Danny Care and Nick Evans form a potentially lethal 9-10 partnership.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Lifeimi Mafi, 12 Paul Warwick, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 David Wallace, 6 Denis Leamy, 5 Mick O'Driscoll, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 John Hayes, 19 Paul O'Connell, 20 Donnacha Ryan, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Sam Tuitupou, 23 Johne Murphy.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Gonzo Camacho, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Ollie Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Matt Cairns, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Mark Lambert, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Will Skinner, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Ross Chisholm.

Date: Saturday, April 30
Venue: Thomond Park, Limerick
Kick-off: 13.00 BST
Referee: Romain Poite

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