Preview: Munster v Scarlets

Date published: October 9 2014

Munster coach Anthony Foley has made eight changes to his starting XV for Friday’s PRO12 meeting with the Scarlets at Thomond Park.

Munster coach Anthony Foley has made eight changes to his starting XV for Friday’s Guinness PRO12 clash with the Scarlets at Thomond Park.

Foley has promoted the returning Peter O’Mahony to the blindside flank while an all-new front-row sees Dave Kilcoyne and BJ Botha pack down on either side of Kevin O’Byrne as the 23-year-old UL Bohs man makes his second PRO12 start.

Dave Foley retains his starting position in the second-row alongside Billy Holland who comes in to make his fourth league start of the season.

Following a sixteen-minute appearance from the bench last weekend, O’Mahony returns to the starting line-up and will captain the side. Tommy O’Donnell remains at openside with CJ Stander switching to number eight for the encounter.

In the half-backs, man of the match against Leinster – Conor Murray will again start at scrum-half with JJ Hanrahan promoted to number ten.

Ivan Dineen and Andrew Smith form the centre partnership at 12 and 13 respectively, while Gerhard van den Heever comes in to join Simon Zebo and Felix Jones in the back three.

The replacements see the inclusion of Argentinian hooker Eusebio Guinazu for the first time with Donncha O’Callaghan and Johne Murphy also returning to the matchday squad.

With a solid victory over the Dragons last Sunday, the Scarlets will be looking to build on the momentum as they take on fourth placed Munster who are currently only a point above them.

Head coach Wayne Pivac has made four changes to the starting XV from last weekend’s derby clash. Aled Davies replaces the injured Gareth Davies whilst Phil John, Kirby Myhill and Rhodri Jones replace last week’s front-row of Rob Evans, Emyr Phillips and Samson Lee.

“We’re improving bit by bit and the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. At this time of year we want to be making good improvements,” said Pivac.

“Getting four points from last weekend’s game was what we needed to get, it would have been nice to get five but we’ll take the four.

“If we look at Munster from the loss at home against Edinburgh to where they are now – they’ve made improvements all the way through. The energy levels and physicality they brought to the Leinster game over 80 minutes was impressive.

“They’ll test us defensively and there’s no doubt it’ll be a physical encounter.”

Form: Munster’s only defeat in their last four Guinness PRO12 encounters was 14-19 at home to Ospreys in round 4. The Munstermen have won only one of their last five home games: 31-5 against Zebre on 19th September. Scarlets have suffered just one defeat in their last seven PRO12 matches: 12-42 against Leinster at the RDS Arena in round 2. The Welshmen’s only victory in their last nine away games came in Treviso on 8th February, whilst their solitary victory in Ireland since November 2012 was at Connacht last November. Each side won its respective home game when the two teams met in the PRO12 last season, whilst Scarlets have been victorious just once on Munster soil in the last eleven years: 13-6 in Cork in November 2012. The Welsh Region have won just one previous encounter at Thomond Park: 19-12 in the PRO12 in September 2003.

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Ivan Dineen, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Dave Foley, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Donncha O’Callaghan, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Johne Murphy.

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Scott Williams (c), 11 Kristian Phillips, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rory Pitman, 7 John Barclay, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Rhodri Jones, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Samson Lee, 19 George Earle, 20 James Davies, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Michael Tagicakibau.

Date: Friday, October 10
Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Venue: Thomond Park
Referee: Claudio Blessano (FIR, 8th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway, Dermot Blake (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Peter Ferguson (IRFU)
TMO: Seamus Flannery (IRFU)