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Preview: Connacht v Munster

24th December 2010 12:32

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sean cronin connacht 2010

Sean Cronin: Starting hooker for Connacht

Centre Keith Matthews will captain Connacht in his 92nd appearance for the side against Munster in the refixed round 11 Magners League game on Monday.

The game was refixed to allow the pitch at The Sportsground time to thaw out from the record breaking freezing temperatures experienced this week.

Matthews, a 28 year old Limerick native, joined Connacht in 2005 having made 2 appearances for Munster and has featured in 68 Magners League games and 23 Amlin Challenge Cup games for Connacht.

Matthews was capped against Argentina Jaguares when selected for Ireland A in November 2009 along with team-mates, Muldoon, Wilkinson, Keatley and Frank Murphy.

Ian Keatley is selected at full-back, the 23 year old traditionally plays at out-half but has shown huge versatility this season having excelled at centre and full-back and the return of Niva Ta'auso from injury gives an extra attacking edge to the back-line.

Ezra Taylor also marks his return from injury with a starting spot at number eight, he replaces John Muldoon who has been ruled out of action with a fractured arm sustained against Harlequins last week. The break is likely to see the Portumna born back-rower out for a number of months.

Meanwhile, several of Munster's international sit out this game at the behest of national management yet the League leaders travel with a strong squad.

"The disappointment of that defeat to the Ospreys in Swansea is still there but we have to put it behind us and focus for the next three weeks on the Magners League - starting with this game in Connacht," Alan Quinlan told the Irishrugby.ie

"It's never an easy place to go and get a result. We'd expect a typical derby encounter.

"There are no surprises when you play them (Connacht). They're a good physical side, strong up front and they have pace in the backs with the likes of Fionn Carr.

"They've the kickers too to punish us if we don't keep our discipline. So it's a big challenge and I'd imagine it'll be a tight game."

Form: Connacht's solo victory over Munster since 1986 was 12-6 at the Sportsground on 28 December 2008. Connacht's only victory in their last seven matches was against the touring Samoans in Galway on 9 November. Connacht have lost their last five games in the Magners League. Munster's last six encounters in all competitions have all been won by the home side on the day. Munster have a won 1, lost 1 record against fellow Irish provinces this season.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Ian Keatley, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Niva Ta'auso, 12 Keith Matthews (C), 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Ezra Taylor, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Michael McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Rob Sweeney.
Replacements:16 Adrian Flavin 17 Barry Fa'amausili 18 Dylan Rogers 19 Bernie Upton 20 Mike McComish 21 Frank Murphy 22 Troy Nathan 23 Brian Tuohy

Munster:15 Paul Warwick, 14 Barry Murphy, 13 Tom Gleeson, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Denis Hurley, 10 Ronan O'Gara capt, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Paddy Butler. 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Alan Quinlan, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Peter Borlase, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Wian du Preez,
Replacements:16 Sean Henry, 17 Dave Ryan, 18 John Hayes, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Johne Murphy, 23 Scott Deasy

Date: Monday, December 27
Venue: The Sportsground
Kick-off: 18.10 GMT
Referee: David Wilkinson

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