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Preview: Munster v Leinster

12th April 2013 13:15

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ronan ogara

Missing: Ronan O'Gara

Munster coach Rob Penney has axed fly-half Ronan O'Gara from his matchday 22 for Saturday's PRO12 clash with Leinster at Thomond Park.

O'Gara, who bagged all of Munster's points (18) in last weekend's Heineken Cup win over Harlequins, makes way for Ian Keatley with Cathal Sheridan and Ivan Dineen providing backline cover.

That's the only change in the backline, while up front Donncha O'Callaghan partners Paul O'Connell and Damien Varley and Stephen Archer start ahead of Mike Sherry and BJ Botha respectively.

James Cronin is included for the first time on the bench and Dave O'Callaghan is back in the squad since late December.

Meanwhile, Brian O'Driscoll will make his first Leinster appearance since the Heineken Cup victory over Exeter Chiefs and he will partner Gordon D'Arcy at centre for the trip to Limerick.

Fergus McFadden picked up a slight calf strain in last Friday's clash against Wasps but should be available for the away trip to Zebre next weekend alongside Jonathan Sexton who will be given an extra week to fully recover from his foot injury.

Ian Madigan's 28-point haul last weekend took him past the 300-point career mark (306 points to date) and he has now scored 202 points in his 26 appearances so far this season.

Sean O'Brien will make his 80th appearance and he is joined in the pack by fellow Ireland international Sean Cronin who makes his 45th appearance in Leinster colours. Leo Cullen leads the team and will be partnered at second row by Quinn Roux, with Shane Jennings recovering from last week's illness to take his place in the back-row alongside O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip.

Kevin McLaughlin is one of four Ireland international forwards named on the bench.

Form: Munster' s victory over English champions Harlequins last weekend saw them become the RaboDirect PRO12's solo representative in the last four of this season's Heineken Cup. The Munstermen's only victory in their last five PRO12 encounters was 22-0 over Connacht in Cork in Round 18. Munster have won their last three encounters with Irish provinces. Leinster's demolition of London Wasps sees them become the only non-French side left in this season's Amlin Challenge Cup. The Leinstermen's seven-match winning run in the PRO12 came to an end with their 18-22 home defeat to Ulster in the last round. Leinster are unbeaten away from home in 2013. Leinster have won their last three encounters with Munster including an 18-9 victory at Thomond Park in this equivalent fixture last season.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Denis Hurley, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Damien Varley, 1 David Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Dave O'Callaghan, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 22 Ivan Dineen.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Kevin McLaughlin, 21 John Cooney, 22 Andrew Goodman, 23 Andrew Conway.

Date: Saturday, 13 April
Venue: Thomond Park Stadium
Kick-off: 18.30 BST
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)

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