Magners League leaders Cardiff Blues travel to Cork looking to get back on the winning trail after losing to Leinster last week. But Munster, who have won their two league games so far, can lay down their own marker for the season ahead by beating the Blues and edging closer to top spot.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, October 5
MUNSTER v CARDIFF BLUES, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm
Team News: Fresh from providing prop back-up for the Ireland squad for last weekend’s World Cup Pool D clash with Argentina in Paris, Tony Buckley has been recalled to the Munster team for Friday’s showdown with Cardiff.
Munster coach Declan Kidney has made three changes to the side that started last Friday’s victory over the Dragons – two in the pack and one at inside centre.
Buckley returns at tighthead prop, with Darragh Hurley dropping back to the replacements bench and Federico Pucciariello, who started at tighthead against the Dragons, switching to the loosehead side of the scrum.
Young flanker Billy Holland, who was a try scorer last week, makes way for James Coughlan in the back row, while New Zealand Maori captain Rua Tipoki will start at number 12 in place of the benched Lifeimi Mafi.
There is added experience on the bench if Kidney wishes to use it. Two more men who were part of the Irish World Cup squad, hooker Frankie Sheahan and flanker Alan Quinlan, have been named in the province’s matchday 22 for the first time this season.
Meanwhile, Wales World Cup centre Jamie Robinson has been drafted straight back into the Cardiff team. Scott Morgan and Bradley Davies will also make their first starts of the season against Munster, while Richie Rees comes in for Jason Spice at scrum half.
Munster: Shaun Payne; Ian Dowling, Kieran Lewis, Rua Tipoki, Anthony Horgan; Paul Warwick, Tomas O’Leary; Federico Pucciariello, Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Mark Melbourne, Mick O’Driscoll, James Coughlan, Niall Ronan, Anthony Foley (capt).
Replacements: Frankie Sheahan, Darragh Hurley, Alan Quinlan, Billy Holland, Gerry Hurley, Jeremy Manning, Lifeimi Mafi.
Cardiff: Ben Blair; Jamie Roberts, Jamie Robinson, Dafydd Hewitt, Tom James; Nick Robinson, Richie Rees; John Yapp, Gareth Williams, Gary Powell, Bradley Davies, Robert Sidoli, Scott Morgan, Robin Sowden-Taylor, Xavier Rush (capt).
Replacements: Scott Roberts, Ross Johnson, Deiniol Jones, Ben White, Jason Spice, Nick Macleod, Rhys Williams.
Referee: David Changleng (Scotland)
Coach Speak: Declan Kidney (Munster) – “The Blues have made a strong start to the season and we’re very aware that they will be looking to bounce back after losing to Leinster last week.
“I’ve been pleased with our own form, how the new players have come in and gelled very quickly. Two wins from two gives us something to build on and another win on Friday would add further momentum. Ourselves and Cardiff, we know each other very well so I’m expecting a tight game.”
David Young (Cardiff) – “We’ve watched Munster’s two opening games very closely, and they play a more expansive game with Paul Warwick at 10 than they do with Ronan O’Gara.
“Their new signing Rua Tipoki has added a cutting edge to them behind (the scrum) and is a real threat. Up front, they play a very traditional Munster game, with driving line outs and a strong scrum, with a lot of pick and goes around the rucks.
“We will be looking to bounce back from last Friday. It was disappointing that we had all the field position and all the possession and didn’t win the game. You’ve got to give Leinster credit, they won the game with their defence, we were creating opportunities but couldn’t finish them off.”
Match Odds: Paddy Power – To Win: Munster 2/5, Cardiff 7/4; Draw: 22/1
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
November 28, 2003: Munster 31 Cardiff 10, Musgrave Park
April 30, 2004: Cardiff 60 Munster 14, Arms Park
October 16, 2004: Munster 49 Cardiff 18, Thomond Park
March 5, 2005: Cardiff 30 Munster 20, Arms Park
November 4, 2005: Cardiff 16 Munster 18, Arms Park
May 27, 2006: Munster 37 Cardiff 8, Thomond Park
September 1, 2006: Cardiff 22 Munster 13, Arms Park
March 2, 2007: Munster 12 Cardiff 19, Musgrave Park
– Munster are going for their seventh successive victory in the Magners League – their last loss being a 20-12 reversal against the Ospreys on April 7. Munster’s 26-16 win at the Dragons last week made it four wins in a row for the province against Welsh opponents
– The Cardiff Blues continue to set the pace at the top of the Magners League table despite a 30-19 defeat to Leinster at the Arms Park last Friday
– The Blues have lost just one of their last five away matches – 38-10 at the Scarlets on May 5
– The two sides met on four occasions last season with the Blues winning both games in the Magners League and Munster taking both in the Heineken Cup