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Preview: Munster v Glasgow

13th April 2012 11:00

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Munster v Glasgow firhill 20111

Pivotal clash: Munster host Glasgow

Munster host play-off hopefuls Glasgow in a pivotal Pro12 clash at Musgrave Park on Saturday.

The teams are currently tied on 56 points as the race for the end of season play-offs reaches the home straight. Munster sit third in the competition table, with the Warriors hot on their heels in fourth.

Saturday's game is the first of three season-defining encounters for Sean Lineen's men, who travel to Treviso on Sunday 22 April before taking on Connacht at Firhill on Saturday 5 May.

"This is the latest in a long line of massive tests for the team," said Lineen.

"Munster away is one of the toughest games you can get, but the players have consistently risen to the challenges that have been put in front of them this season and we've every confidence they can deliver again.

"We've only lost one of our last fifteen matches in the RaboDirect PRO12 and the quality of our performances in the home wins against Aironi and Cardiff Blues was very pleasing. Everyone needs to take it up another notch if we're to claim another positive result again this weekend.

"In terms of consistency and intensity, Munster have set the standard for the rest of European rugby in the last decade or so. We've massive respect for what they have achieved, but we're very clear about our own objectives and we travel there with confidence."

The Warriors starting XV for the game shows six changes from that which saw off the Blues 31-3 in Glasgow's last fixture on 30 March.

Three of the switches are injury enforced, Ryan Wilson and Graeme Morrison missing with knee injuries and John Barclay not having recovered sufficiently from the blow to the head he sustained in that game to take the field this week.

Peter Murchie, an early replacement for Morrison in the Cardiff clash, will start at full-back, with Stuart Hogg and Alex Dunbar teaming up in the centres. Ruaridh Jackson is named at stand-off.

Jon Welsh and Pat MacArthur come into the front row, Richie Gray starts in the boiler house while Johnnie Beattie will line up at number eight in place of Wilson.

"It's really unfortunate for Ryan, Graeme and John that they're missing out, because they've all given a lot to our campaign to date," explained Lineen.

"That said, the level of contribution across the board in the squad has been a real strong feature of our season, and those coming into the side this week are more than capable of helping secure the result that we and the supporters all want.

"Peter Murchie has been outstanding of late, and although we know that Johnnie Beattie is leaving at the end of the season, he's absolutely desperate to go out on a high by helping his home-town club achieve success.

"The same goes for Richie Gray, whose quality speaks for itself, while Ruaridh will bring good game management and drive to the backline. The changes in the front row highlight the strength in depth we've got in that area, and once again we're delighted with what we have on the bench to come on and make an impact."

Meanwhile, Munster have seven players involved in last Sunday's loss to Ulster ruled out through injury.

BJ Botha (ribs), Paul O'Connell (knee), James Coughlan (hand), Keith Earls (ankle), Ronan O'Gara (leg), Denis Hurley (leg) and David Wallace (knee) are all sidelined as are Danny Barnes (knee), Dave Foley (shoulder), Ian Nagle (shoulder) and Dave O'Callaghan (knee) so that just three of the pack retain their starting positions from last week while there are five changes to the backline.

Donncha O'Callaghan wins his 200th cap and will partner Mick O'Driscoll, who captains the side, while Peter O'Mahony moves to number eight in the absence of Coughlan and Donnacha Ryan is named at blindside flank.

In the backs the versatile Johne Murphy takes over from Earls at 13, Luke O'Dea replaces Hurley and Ian Keatley is in for the injured O'Gara with Tomas O'Leary preferred on this occasion to Conor Murray.

Form: Munster have slipped to three defeats in their last four matches in all competitions. The Munstermen have lost their last two home games, but both were at Thomond Park, whilst at Musgrave Park Munster have won 14 in a row since losing there to Glasgow on 10 May 2008. Glasgow Warriors are undefeated in their last six matches in the PRO12 and have drawn their last two games against Irish opponents. The Warriors' only victory in Ireland since December 2009 was 23-19 at Leinster on 17 September 2011. Munster have won their last four matches against Glasgow.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Luke O'Dea, 13 Johne Murphy, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Peter O'Mahony, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Mick O'Driscoll, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Billy Holland, 19 John Ryan, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Scott Deasy, 23 Ivan Dineen

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Federico Aramburu, 13 Stuart Hogg, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Colin Shaw, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Richie Gray, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Jon Welsh.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Moray Low, 19 Tom Ryder, 20 Calum Forrester, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Tommy Seymour.

Date: Saturday, April 14
Venue: Musgrave Park
Kick-off: 19.15 BST (18.35 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens

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