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Celtic League: Good Friday Or Great Fortnight?

Celtic League: Good Friday Or Great Fortnight?

Morale-boosting league wins for both Leinster and Munster tomorrow will hold the Heineken Cup-chasing duo in good stead for their European quarter final ties next week.

Morale-boosting league wins for both Leinster and Munster tomorrow will hold the Heineken Cup-chasing duo in good stead for their European quarter final ties next week.

Easier said than done however, with Declan Kidney’s side hoping to end a two-game losing streak against the Llanelli Scarlets – who lie fifth, five points behind their third-placed hosts.

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CELTIC LEAGUE: Week 19: Friday, March 25
Leinster v Llanelli Scarlets, Lansdowne Road, 5.00pm (live Setanta Sports)

Head-to-head since 2003: Leinster 1, Llanelli 2
League form: Leinster LWLLW, Llanelli WLWWW
Top scorers: Leinster: David Holwell 117 points / Denis Hickie 5 tries; Llanelli: Gareth Bowen 124 / Matthew Watkins 6

Challenging Munster for the number one Irish seed role for the Heineken Cup is still on the cards for the men in blue, in what is their final Dublin league tie of the season.

Minus 14 squad members last weekend, they still out-did Connacht 26-21 in Galway, and it will be interesting to see how many of their international contingent line out, just eight days away from their European date with Leicester Tigers.

Kidney included both Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Gleeson – the formerly injured duo – in a 27-man squad named on Wednesday, with Brian O’Driscoll, Girvan Dempsey, Denis Hickie, Guy Easterby, Reggie Corrigan, Shane Byrne, Malcolm O’Kelly and Eric Miller also included.

Wales Grand-Slam winning scrum-half Dwayne Peel and Ireland flanker Simon Easterby are among the Scarlets’ replacements as they strive for a fourth consecutive win.


Forwards (from): Reggie Corrigan (Capt), Ricky Nebbett, John Lyne, Shane Byrne, David Blaney, Leo Cullen, Malcolm O’Kelly, Ben Gissing, Eric Miller, Shane Jennings, Keith Gleeson, Victor Costello, Des Dillon, Ciaran Potts, Aidan McCullen.

Backs (from): Brian O’Riordan, Brian O’Meara, Guy Easterby, David Holwell, Denis Hickie, Gary Brown, Gordon D’Arcy, David Quinlan, Kieran Lewis, Brian O’Driscoll, Girvan Dempsey, Felipe Contepomi.

Scarlets: Barry Davies; Garan Evans, Matthew Watkins, Mark Taylor, Tal Selley; Gareth Bowen, Mike Phillips; Phil John, Robin McBryde, John Davies, Vernon Cooper (Capt), Adam Jones, Chris Wyatt, Gavin Thomas, Andy Powell.

Replacements: David Maddocks, Aled Gravelle, Bryn Griffiths, Jonathan Mills, Simon Easterby, Dwayne Peel, Steve Thomas.

Referee: Iain Ramage (Scotland)

Newport-Gwent Dragons v Munster, Rodney Parade, 7.05pm (live Setanta Sports)

Head-to-head since 2003: Dragons 2, Munster 1
League form: Dragons WLWWL, Munster WLWLW
Top scorers: Dragons: Ceri Sweeney 101 points / Kevin Morgan 9 tries; Munster: Paul Burke 123 / Christian Cullen 8

Alan Gaffney’s Munster meanwhile, will have it even tougher at Rodney Parade. They boast just one win in their last nine visits to Wales.

A poor record for the 2002/03 champions and – added to that – the fact that at least three points are needed to prevent the first-placed Ospreys from claiming the title early, it’s simply a must-win trip.

The Dragons – 30-0 losers to the Ospreys last weekend – will still be reeling from their scoreless outing at St Helen’s.

The proposed watching prescence of Munster’s new signing Samoan legend Brian Lima has been delayed due to a family issue at home – but with five internationals returning, Gaffney’s charges will be primed for a strong showing.

The Australian coach welcomes back Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, Marcus Horan, Frankie Sheahan and Donncha O’Callaghan – who celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday – for the Wales trip.

Wales skipper Michael Owen has already hyped up the clash by dubbing it “Wales v Ireland – take two.” “Munster will be a difficult game for us as they are a side who can perform just as well home or away.”

“They have a number of quality players in their side and will no doubt be smarting from the weekend. But we are back at Rodney Parade playing in front of the home fans and recognise that we have to win if we are to achieve a home draw in the Celtic Cup which is the piece of silverware we are aiming to win as a team,” added the number 8.

Dragons Squad:

Backs (from): Percy Montgomery, Gareth Wyatt, Kevin Morgan, Nathan Brew, Daniel Griffiths, Gareth Chapman, Hal Luscombe, Sione Tuipulotu, Jon Bryant, Ceri Sweeney, Craig Warlow, Gareth Baber, James Ireland, Gareth Cooper.

Forwards (from): Adam Black, Steve Jones, Rhys Thomas, Ian Gough, Luke Charteris, Jamie Ringer, Jason Forster (Capt), Michael Owen, James Richards, Rod Snow, Chris Anthony, Peter Sidoli, Rhys Oakley


(15) Shaun Payne
(14) John Kelly
(13) Mike Mullins
(12) Jason Holland
(11) Anthony Horgan
(10) Ronan O’Gara
(9) Peter Stringer
(1) Marcus Horan
(2) Frankie Sheahan
(3) Frank Roche
(4) Donncha O’Callaghan
(5) Trevor Hogan
(6) Alan Quinlan
(7) David Wallace
(8) Jim Williams (Capt)


(16) James Blaney
(17) Eugene McGovern
(18) Tom Bowman
(19) Stephen Keogh
(20) Frank Murphy
(21) Paul Burke
(22) Paul Devlin

Referee: Rob Dickson (Scotland)