Preview: Munster v Racing 92

Date published: January 20 2017

Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has made three changes to his side for Saturday’s Champions Cup match against Racing 92 at Thomond Park.

Tommy O’Donnell, James Cronin and Ronan O’Mahony come into the starting XV as Munster target the win that would guarantee a home quarter-final.

O’Donnell returns from injury to start as Jack O’Donoghue moves to the bench and Cronin is given the nod at loosehead prop with Dave Kilcoyne moving to the replacements.

O’Mahony, Munster’s top try-scorer so far this season, takes the place of Keith Earls in the only change to the backline with the Moyross man not included after taking a knock to his ribs in training earlier this week.

It’s as you were elsewhere with Niall Scannell and John Ryan continuing at hooker and tighthead prop respectively. Donnacha Ryan is partnered by Jean Kleyn in the second row with captain Peter O’Mahony, O’Donnell and CJ Stander completing the pack.

Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal are again the half-back pairing with no change to the midfield partnership of Rory Scannell and Jaco Taute. O’Mahony takes the place of Earls in the back three with Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway maintaining their places.

Zebo will be hoping to continue his outstanding try-scoring record against Racing that has seen Munster’s record try-scorer touch down five times in three games against the Parisiens.

The game will mark Munster’s 60th top-flight European Cup game at Thomond Park, the first of which took place against Swansea in 1995, with Munster losing just four of those 60 encounters at the Limerick venue.

Meanwhile, Racing 92 have named Benjamin Dambielle at fly-half while Etienne Dussartre comes in at inside centre for their final game of a disappointing pool campaign.

Form: The Irish Province have already advanced from Pool 1 to their 16th European quarter-final in 19 seasons after their last-gasp triumph at Glasgow Warriors in Round 5. A second Champions Cup victory over Racing 92 would earn them a home tie in the last-eight, but the Paris side showed they are far from finished in this competition when they thrashed Leicester Tigers 34-3last time out. Racing were recently in good form after a 34-3 win over the Leicester Tigers but had two poor performances before that with two consecutive losses to Glasgow and Munster.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O’Mahony, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Francis Saili

Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Etienne Dussartre, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Benjamin Dambielle, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 So’otala Fa’aso’o, 7 Matthieu Voisin, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Ali Williams, 20 Chris Masoe, 21 James Hart, 22 Franck Pourteau, 23 Albert Vulivuli

Date: Saturday, January 21
Venue: Thomond Park
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini (Italy), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)