Springbok duo to make Munster debuts

Date published: August 21 2020 - David Skippers

The PRO14 continues on Saturday and Sunday as five matches take place, including the big clash between Irish giants Leinster and Munster.

Saturday

Scarlets v Cardiff Blues

Johnny Williams will make his Scarlets debut as Guinness PRO14 action returns to Parc y Scarlets with an-all Welsh clash against Cardiff Blues on Saturday.

The centre, signed from Newcastle Falcons this summer, takes his place in a much-changed line-up from the one that took the field last time out against Munster back in February.

Leigh Halfpenny and Johnny McNicholl join Steff Evans in an all-international back three, while Williams is partnered by captain Steff Hughes in midfield. Dan Jones and Wales number nine Gareth Davies combine at half-back.

Up front, head coach Glenn Delaney is able to select three Wales internationals in his front-row — Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias and Samson Lee. Club captain Ken Owens is named among the replacements. Sam Lousi has been cleared to play following his red card against Munster and packs down alongside Lewis Rawlins in the second-row.

The back-row is made up of Scotland international Blade Thomson, who returns for the first time since the Boxing Day win over the Ospreys, number eight Uzair Cassiem and openside Josh Macleod. Cassiem is the leading carrier in the PRO14 this season, while Macleod tops the league’s turnover charts.

On the bench, Phil Price, Owens and Werner Kruger provide front-row cover; Jake Ball has overcome the shoulder injury he picked up during the Six Nations to take his place in the match-day squad, while flanker James Davies is poised to make his first appearance of the season following a hip injury. Kieran Hardy, Angus O’Brien and Paul Asquith make up the remainder of the replacements.

Meanwhile, new signings Rhys Carré and Cory Hill go straight into the starting line-up as Cardiff Blues return to action for the first time since February.

John Mulvihill’s men travel to face the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday, more than five months since facing Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

Carré and Hill had both agreed a return to the Blues ahead of the 2020/21 season but with rugby now restarting with a condensed finale to the PRO14, they are available for action.

John Mulvihill is relishing the return of rugby and expects two weeks of typically intense Welsh derbies to prime his side for the next campaign.

He has named a familiar side including 10 Wales internationals and with Carré and Hill the new faces. Josh Turnbull will captain Cardiff Blues as he returns to his former stomping ground once again.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Steff Hughes (c), 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Phil Price, 18 Werner Kruger, 19, Jake Ball, 20 James Davies, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Paul Asquith

Cardiff: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Harri Millard, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Will Boyde, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull (c), 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Carré
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Kieron Assiratti, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Matthew Morgan

Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse, Dan Jones
TMO: Wayne Davies

Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh

Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson has named a squad containing 17 internationals for Saturday’s 1872 Cup decider against Edinburgh at Murrayfield, as his side take to the field for a competitive match for the first time in six months.

Scotland hooker Fraser Brown will lead the side out on Saturday evening after being named as one of the squad’s co-captains earlier this week, a year after skippering the Warriors to a 34-10 victory over Edinburgh at Scotstoun.

Oli Kebble and Zander Fagerson will pack down on either side of Brown in the front-row.

An all-Scotland pairing of Scott Cummings and Richie Gray forms a formidable second-row partnership, the latter in line to make his first Glasgow Warriors appearance since 2012 after re-joining the club earlier this summer.

Matt Fagerson starts at openside flanker for the first time this season, with vastly-experienced duo Rob Harley and Ryan Wilson completing the back-row.

The backline sees Ali Price get the nod at scrum-half, as Adam Hastings lines up outside him in the number 10 jersey.

Pete Horne and Nick Grigg are paired together in the centres, with both men retaining their places in the starting XV from the club’s last outing back in February.

A try-scorer in Glasgow’s last fixture at Murrayfield, Huw Jones starts at full-back for the first time since joining the club in 2017, as Tommy Seymour and Ratu Tagive are selected to start on the wings.

On the bench, Dylan Evans is in line to become the 311th player to represent the club after arriving on a short-term loan deal from the Scarlets to provide cover at loose-head prop.

George Turner and D’arcy Rae join Evans as the front-row replacements, whilst Kiran McDonald and Tom Gordon – winner of the club’s Most Improved Player of the Season award for 2019/20 – complete the cover for the pack.

George Horne and Niko Matawalu will be looking to make an impact from the bench if and when called upon, with the pair boasting 73 tries between them in Glasgow colours.

The replacements are rounded out by Glenn Bryce, as the Alloa man caps off a week that saw him agree to a contract extension until the end of 2020 by claiming the 23 jersey.

Meanwhile, Summer signing Andrew Davidson will make his Edinburgh debut against his former team in this derby.

The lock is one of two debutants named in the matchday 23 as former Scotland U20 fly-half Nathan Chamberlain is selected among the replacements.

Scotland star Stuart McInally skippers an Edinburgh line-up that includes nine internationals in the starting XV.

With the inter-city derby series tied 1-1, the two sides return to PRO14 action for the first time since February, with the rivals last meeting ending 29-19 in Edinburgh’s favour in December 2019.

Blair Kinghorn is named at full-back with Eroni Sau and Duhan van der Merwe – who leads the league in clean breaks, defenders beaten and metres gained – selected on the wings.

Scotland international centre Mark Bennett links up with Chris Dean in midfield, while vice-captain and scrum-half, Nic Groom, is paired with fly-half Jaco van der Walt at half-back.

An-all Scotland front-row sees captain McInally pack down alongside prop duo Rory Sutherland and WP Nel.

Debutant Davidson is joined in the second-row by 42-times capped Scotland lock, Grant Gilchrist.

Fijian international Viliame Mata is named at number eight with Luke Crosbie and Hamish Watson selected at blindside and openside flanker respectively.

The teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Huw Jones, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Ratu Tagive, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Matt Fagerson, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown (c), 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 D’arcy Rae, 19 Kiran McDonald, 20 Tom Gordon, 21 George Horne, 22 Niko Matawalu, 23 Glenn Bryce

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Eroni Sau, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Luke Crosbie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Andrew Davidson, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally (c), 1 Rory Sutherland
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Nathan Chamberlain, 23 George Taylor

Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 17:15 BST (16:15 GMT)
Referee: Mike Adamson
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White, Finlay Brown
TMO: Neil Patterson

Leinster v Munster

From their UCD base, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has announced his matchday 23 to face Munster in their Iris derby at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Jordan Larmour, Dave Kearney and James Lowe have been selected as the back three with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose in the centre.

Fly-half Johnny Sexton will captain the team with Luke McGrath alongside him.

In the pack, Cian Healy and Andrew Porter start at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively with Rónan Kelleher at hooker.

Ryan Baird is involved for the first time against Munster having previously played against Ulster (his debut in 2019) and Connacht. It is also his first start in an inter-provincial game. Baird will be joined by Scott Fardy in the second-row.

In the back-row, Caelan Doris starts at blindside flanker for the first time for Leinster, with Josh van der Flier at openside.

Finally, Jack Conan plays for the first time this season having recovered from an ankle injury picked up at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. His last game for Leinster was last season’s PRO14 Final.

Meanwhile, it will be Munster’s first game in six months with new signings Damian de Allende and RG Snyman both starting on their debuts.

Shane Daly makes his fifth start at full-back in his 18th appearance for the province with Ireland internationals Andrew Conway and Keith Earls on either flank.

De Allende is partnered in the centres by Chris Farrell with Conor Murray and JJ Hanrahan in the half-backs.

James Cronin, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer start in the front-row with Snyman and Billy Holland in the engine room.

The side is completed by the back-row of captain Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander.

There are five forwards on the bench with Rhys Marshall, Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan providing the front row back-up.

Lock Jean Kleyn and back-row Chris Cloete complete the forward cover.

Craig Casey, Rory Scannell and new signing Matt Gallagher, who is set to make his debut, are the backline replacements.

The teams:

Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Ryan Baird, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Will Connors, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Max Deegan

Munster: 15 Shane Daly, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Keith Earls, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Billy Holland, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Matt Gallagher

Venue: Aviva Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 BST (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Brace
Assistant referees: George Clancy, Joy Neville
TMO: Brian MacNeice

Sunday

Ospreys v Dragons

Ospreys’ try-scoring machine Dan Evans makes a welcome return at full-back, linking up with two Welsh international wingers in George North and Luke Morgan, both of whom offer terrific pace out wide.

The young midfield pairing is nothing if not exciting, with Kieran Williams, who raised more than a few eyebrows with his deceptive pace and power, lining up alongside international Owen Watkin.

Summer signing and experienced Northampton outside half, Stephen Myler, will link up for the first time with returning Osprey legend, Rhys Webb.

There’s no lack of power in the pack, especially in the front-row, with Nicky Smith and Tom Botha packing down at loosehead and tighthead respectively, either side of the imposing figure of Sam Parry at hooker. It’s a familiar looking, all-international second-row, as Adam Beard packs down shoulder to shoulder with Alun Wyn Jones.

In the back-row, young Morgan Morris is entrusted with the number eight jersey once more. Guarding the blindside is Olly Cracknell (who is the top ranked tackler in the PRO14 with 171 tackles), while inspirational captain Justin Tipuric is on the openside.

Meanwhile, new signings Nick Tompkins and Joe Maksymiw will make their debuts as Dragons face Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

Wales international centre Tompkins, a summer recruit from Saracens, and lock Maksymiw, who joined from Connacht, are part of a new-look Dragons side who face competitive action for the first time in 170 days.

Fly-half Sam Davies makes his first return to his former region and will captain the Dragons. He is joined at half back by Tavis Knoyle who makes his 50th appearance for the Men of Gwent.

Tompkins is paired with Jack Dixon in the centre while Owen Jenkins and Ashton Hewitt provide the firepower out wide.

Dafydd Howells is named at full back and makes his first appearance since November last year.

Hooker Richard Hibbard will pack down with props Brok Harris and Leon Brown up front while Maksymiw joins Matthew Screech in the second-row.

Flanker Ben Fry, who signed a senior deal with the region last month, makes his full PRO14 debut alongside Tane Basham and Ross Moriarty in the back-row.

Wales international Aaron Wainwright is named among the replacements.

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 George North, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Kieran Williams, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Will Griffiths, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler

Dragons: 15 Dafydd Howells, 14 Owen Jenkins, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies (c), 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Ben Fry, 5 Joe Maksymiw, 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Conor Maguire, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Adam Warren

Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 14:15 BST (13:15 GMT)
Referee: Adam Jones
Assistant referees: Craig Evans, Gwyn Morris
TMO: Sean Brickell

Connacht v Ulster

Irish international Bundee Aki will make his 100th appearance for Connacht on Sunday after he was named to start in the PRO14 clash with Ulster at the Aviva Stadium.

Aki joined Connacht in 2014 and has gone on to play a central role in the province’’s fortunes since then. He was named PRO12 Player of the Season in 2015/16, the same year he helped the team to their first ever title.

His form was rewarded with a first call-up to the Ireland squad in the 2017 Autumn internationals. He has been an ever-present member of the squad since then, making 26 appearances and starting every game in the Grand Slam victory of 2018.

Elsewhere at least two players will make their Connacht debuts on Sunday with Alex Wootton and Academy graduate Peter Sullivan both named on the wings. They form a back three with John Porch who slots in at full-back.

Tom Farrell will partner Aki in the centre with Irish international Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty forming a formidable half-back partnership.

In the forwards there’s a return to action for prop Finlay Bealham after sustaining a serious injury against Edinburgh in February, and he makes up an experienced front-row with Denis Buckley and hooker Dave Heffernan.

Ultan Dillane and Gavin Thornbury have been named in the second row, and the starting XV is completed by flankers Eoghan Masterson and captain Jarrad Butler, with Paul Boyle named at number eight.

Three more players could make their Connacht debuts off the bench, with props Jordan Duggan and Jack Aungier, and back-row Conor Oliver all included.

The remainder of the replacements is made up of Jonny Murphy, Niall Murray, Stephen Kerins, Conor Dean and Tom Daly.

Meanwhile, fly-half Billy Burns will lead out the Ulster men, in what will be the team’s return to competitive action following a six-month interruption due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Burns will be joined at half-back by John Cooney, and the pair will be hoping to help guide Ulster to a place in the PRO14 Play-off Series, with two points required from the remaining two regular season games.

In the back three, Jacob Stockdale is selected at full-back, and will be joined on the wings by Louis Ludik and Craig Gilroy. 21-year-old James Hume will form the midfield partnership with Stuart McCloskey.

Rob Herring will start at hooker with props Jack McGrath and Marty Moore making up an Irish international front-row. Alan O’Connor will partner with Kieran Treadwell in the second-row, while Nick Timoney, Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee have been named as the starting loose forwards.

New signings Alby Mathewson and Ian Madigan could make their Ulster debuts this weekend as they are named among the replacements, as is Australian international lock, Sam Carter, who is set to make his first appearance since November following his return from shoulder rehab.

Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole and Matthew Rea are named as the other forward replacements, with Michael Lowry completing the 23.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 John Porch, 14 Peter Sullivan, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Jarrad Butler (c), 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Jonny Murphy, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Niall Murray, 20 Conor Oliver, 21 Stephen Kerins, 22 Conor Dean, 23 Tom Daly

Ulster: 15 Jacob Stockdale, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Billy Burns (c), 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Nick Timoney, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Matthew Rea, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Michael Lowry

Venue: Aviva Stadium
Kick-off: 16:30 BST (15:30 GMT)
Referee: Frank Murphy
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher, Chris Busby
TMO: Olly Hodges