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Magners Preview: Cardiff Blues v Munster

Magners Preview: Cardiff Blues v Munster

Revenge will be on the minds of Paul O’Connell and company at the Arms Park on Saturday evening as they look to claim Munster’s first win in four league meetings with the Cardiff Blues.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, March 1

CARDIFF BLUES v MUNSTER, Arms Park, 5.30pm (live Setanta Sports 2/S4C)

Team News: Paul O’Connell will make his first start of the season for Munster on Saturday evening when they take on the Cardiff Blues in the Magners League.

Munster coach Declan Kidney has named O’Connell, Peter Stringer and Tony Buckley – three members of the Irish squad that beat Scotland last week – in his team for the Arms Park clash.

Having been hampered by a back injury since the World Cup, O’Connell has proven in his fitness in recent weeks with run-outs as a replacement in Munster’s league win at Edinburgh and Ireland’s Six Nations triumph over Scotland.

The Limerick-born lock will join Donnacha Ryan in the province’s second row this weekend, replacing his Ireland colleague Mick O’Driscoll who started the 11-7 victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

In all, Munster boss Kidney has made three changes and one positional switch to the side that lined out in Scotland earlier this month. Brian Carney comes in for Ian Dowling on the right wing, with Doug Howlett moving over to the left.

With Rua Tipoki nursing a back strain he picked up in training, Kieran Lewis will join Lifeimi Mafi in the centre.

The Munster replacements bench has also been chopped and changed with Eugene McGovern stepping in for Darragh Hurley and Mark Melbourne and John O’Sullivan the other new additions.

Jeremy Manning, who will be back playing his native New Zealand from next season, will provide the out-half cover in Cardiff.

Meanwhile, young out-half Rhys Jones is to make his first start for the Blues this weekend.

Jones, who arrived in Cardiff from Sale Sharks on a season-long loan in December, first featured in the Welsh region’s 11-6 win over the Newport Gwent Dragons in December.

The Blues have been boosted by the presence of Deiniol Jones, Robin Sowden-Taylor and Jamie Roberts in their starting line-up – Wales coach Warren Gatland released all three players from his Six Nations squad for the game.

While the Welsh management have predictably rested Tom Shanklin, Gethin Jenkins and Martyn Williams, the Blues will have to do without winger Tom James due to illness.

CARDIFF BLUES: Ben Blair; Tal Selley, Jamie Robinson, Gareth Thomas, Jamie Roberts; Rhys Jones, Richie Rees; John Yapp, Rhys Thomas, Gary Powell, Deiniol Jones, Paul Tito, Maama Molitika, Robin Sowden-Taylor, Xavier Rush (capt).

Replacements: Taufa’ao Filise, Gareth Williams, Scott Morgan, Ben White, Jason Spice, Nick Macleod, Dafydd Hewitt.

MUNSTER: Shaun Payne; Brian Carney, Kieran Lewis, Lifeimi Mafi, Doug Howlett; Paul Warwick, Peter Stringer; Federico Pucciariello, Frankie Sheahan, Tony Buckley, Donnacha Ryan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, Anthony Foley.

Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Eugene McGovern, Mark Melbourne, John O’Sullivan, James Coughlan, Tomas O’Leary, Jeremy Manning.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)

Say What: David Young (Cardiff Blues) – “Munster are just ahead of us in the league so it’s an important game for both sides. It is also a game either team could win, but we are determined to get the right result to keep us in the title race.”

Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Cardiff Blues: Nick Robinson 52; Munster: Paul Warwick 78; Tries: Cardiff Blues: Tom James 5; Munster: Paul Warwick, Denis Leamy, Donnacha Ryan 2 each.


Friday, November 28, 2003 – Munster 31 Cardiff Blues 10, Musgrave Park
Friday, April 30, 2004 – Cardiff Blues 60 Munster 14, Arms Park
Saturday, October 16, 2004 – Munster 49 Cardiff Blues 18, Thomond Park
Saturday, March 5, 2005 – Cardiff Blues 30 Munster 20, Arms Park
Friday, November 4, 2005 – Cardiff Blues 16 Munster 18, Arms Park
Saturday, May 27, 2006 – Munster 37 Cardiff Blues 8, Thomond Park
Friday, September 1, 2006 – Cardiff Blues 22 Munster 13, Arms Park
Friday, March 2, 2007 – Munster 12 Cardiff Blues 19, Musgrave Park
Friday, October 5, 2007 – Munster 17 Cardiff Blues 19, Musgrave Park


– Cardiff Blues slipped up 24-17 against Leinster in Dublin last time out, but at the Arms Park the Blues have lost just once since September – 11-10 to Edinburgh in the Magners League on January 4

– Munster have won five of their last six games in all competitions, and have also won their last three matches against Welsh opponents since the Ospreys beat them at the Liberty Stadium on October 14

– The Blues have won their last three meetings with Munster in the Magners League, while Munster have won on two of their last three visits to the Arms Park