Preview: Munster v Dragons

Date published: February 9 2017

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has made five changes to his side for Friday’s PRO12 clash with Dragons at Irish Independent Park.

Tyler Bleyendaal retains the captaincy while local man Darren Sweetnam makes a welcome return to the starting side following a knee injury.

In total five changes are made to the side that defeated Edinburgh while Dave Kilcoyne, Tommy O’Donnell, Rory Scannell and Andrew Conway have all been made available from the Ireland Six Nations camp for the game in Cork.

Kilcoyne comes into the front-row alongside Rhys Marshall and Stephen Archer with second-rows Jean Kleyn and Dave Foley again completing the tight-five.

O’Donnell returns to the back-row at openside with Dave O’Callaghan and Jack O’Donoghue taking charge at six and eight.

Duncan Williams and captain Bleyendaal again form the half-back partnership and, in a fully changed midfield, Jaco Taute reverts from fullback to resume his partnership alongside Scannell.

Crossing for his sixth try of the current campaign last weekend, Ronan O’Mahony remains on the left wing with the final two changes seeing Conway and Sweetnam re-join the back three. Cork native Sweetnam makes his first appearance since injuring his knee in Munster’s win over Leinster on St Stephen’s Day.

Three academy representatives – Brian Scott, Conor Oliver and Dan Goggin – are named on the bench alongside club player Abrie Griesel of Young Munster.

Meanwhile, Dragons head coach Kingsley Jones has named a strong side which includes the return of first team regulars who sat out last weekend’s Anglo-Welsh Cup clash.

One of these changes is skipper Lewis Evans who along with Adam Warren signed a new contract with the region last week.

24-year-old Pat Howard returns to the back three to join fellow wing Adam Hughes and full-back Carl Meyer who reached his 50th appearance for the Dragons last weekend. The centre partnership sees Tyler Morgan partnered by Adam Warren this weekend, with fly-half Dorian Jones retaining his position and scrum-half Tavis Knoyle returning to the starting XV.

In the front-row, Sam Hobbs retains his position as loosehead prop with hooker Rhys Buckley and tighthead prop Brok Harris joining him.

Last weekend’s double try scorer Matthew Screech gets the nod in the second-row alongside Rynard Landman, as the back-row sees flankers Ollie Griffiths and Nic Cudd named alongside number eight Lewis Evans.

On the replacements bench Thomas Davies, Angus O’Brien and Sam Beard are joined by Elliot Dee, Lloyd Fairbrother, Nick Crosswell, Harrison Keddie and Sarel Pretorius.

Form: Munster have won their last seven matches in the Guinness PRO12 since their reversal to Leinster at Aviva Stadium on 8 October. The Munstermen have lost two of their last four fixtures played in Cork, to Ospreys last February and to Cardiff Blues in September. Dragons 26-8 victory at home to Treviso in round 13 ended a three game losing run in the Guinness PRO12. The Welshmen have lost their last 18 away games in the PRO12 since beating Treviso at Stadio Monigo in March 2015. Munster’s only defeat to the Dragons in their last seven meetings was 6-22 at Rodney Parade in December 2015, whilst Dragons only previous victory on Munster soil came on their first ever visit to Thomond Park in March 2004.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O’Mahony, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal (c), 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O’Donoghue, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Dave O’Callaghan, 5 Dave Foley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Conor Oliver, 21 Abrie Griesel, 22 Francis Saili, 23 Dan Goggin

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Lewis Evans (c), 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Ollie Griffiths, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Rhys Buckley, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Harrison Keddie, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Sam Beard

Date: Friday, February 10
Venue: Irish Independent Park
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Keith Allen (Scotland), Stuart Douglas (Ireland)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)