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Heineken Cup Quarter-Final Preview: Gloucester v Munster

Heineken Cup Quarter-Final Preview: Gloucester v Munster

Munster travel to current Guinness Premiership leaders Gloucester for another crunch quarter-final in the history of the province’s long association with the Heineken Cup. Should Declan Kidney’s side triumph at Kingsholm, their reward will be a semi-final away to either Saracens or the Ospreys.

2007/08 HEINEKEN CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Saturday, April 6

GLOUCESTER v MUNSTER, Kingsholm, 5.30pm (live Sky Sports 2/highlights RTE Two)

Team News: Gloucester have recalled Mike Tindall to their squad for Saturday’s sold-out clash with Munster. Head coach Dean Ryan confirmed on Friday that the England centre will feature as a replacement when the Kingsholm club contest their third quarter-final and first against Munster.

Tindall has not played since seriously damaging his liver against Wales in the first round of the Six Nations in February.

The majority of Ryan’s line-up remains intact from the one that lost 17-14 to Worcester in the Guinness Premiership last weekend, but there are also significant alterations.

Chris Paterson comes in on the wing in place of the injured Iain Balshaw, Peter Buxton returns to the blindside flank and Andy Hazell comes in for Akapusi Qera, who is also ruled out through injury.

Buxton has been an ever present in Gloucester’s Heineken Cup campaign so far this season and replaces Alasdair Strokosch. Because of injury, this will be Hazell’s first Heineken Cup appearance of the season and he will complete a back row that also features his England colleague Luke Narraway.

The rest of the forward pack remains unchanged. Nick Wood, Andy Titterrell and Carlos Nieto form the front row, while skipper Marco Bortolami and Alex Brown are the second rows.

The only change in the Gloucester’s backs is the involvement of Paterson and he will be making his 15th appearance of the season in all competitions.

Meanwhile, Tomas O’Leary will partner Ronan O’Gara at half-back in the Munster team to take on Gloucester at Kingsholm.

It will be the 24-year-old O’Leary’s fourth Heineken Cup start and first since he lined out on the right wing against Cardiff Blues in December 2006. He was used as a replacement against London Wasps in the province’s narrow defeat at the Ricoh Arena last November.

But the Corkman has featured regularly for Munster in the Magners League in recent weeks and scored a try in their 42-6 victory over Ulster at Musgrave Park.

In all, Munster coach Declan Kidney has made four personnel changes and one positional switch to the team that started last weekend’s 16-5 Magners League win over Connacht.

The players to come in are centre Rua Tipoki, who has recovered from a back injury, half-backs O’Gara and O’Leary and prop Marcus Horan, who has shaken off the knock he sustained against Connacht.

The one positional switch sees Denis Leamy move from inside centre to the more familiar territory of the back row, with Anthony Foley, the Heineken Cup’s record caps holder, the player to lose out – although the veteran could still have a big role to play off the replacements bench.

Thanks to his good recent form, Cork Constitution clubman Denis Hurley (23) will make his Heineken Cup debut at full-back as he continues to keep Shaun Payne out of the side.

The inclusions of O’Gara, O’Leary and Horan see Paul Warwick, Peter Stringer and Tony Buckley drop to the bench, while Mick O’Driscoll edges Donnacha Ryan out as second row cover and Kieran Lewis will cover the outside backs.

GLOUCESTER: Olly Morgan; Chris Paterson, James Simpson-Daniel, Anthony Allen, Lesley Vainikolo; Ryan Lamb, Rory Lawson; Nick Wood, Andy Titterrell, Carlos Nieto, Marco Bortolami (capt), Alex Brown, Peter Buxton, Andy Hazell, Luke Narraway.

Replacements: Jeremy Paul, Alasdair Dickinson, Will James, Gareth Delve, Gareth Cooper, Willie Walker, Mike Tindall.

MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett, Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.

Replacements: Frankie Sheahan, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll, Anthony Foley, Peter Stringer, Paul Warwick, Kieran Lewis.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Coach Speak: Dean Ryan (Gloucester) – “I say this regularly but this is a side picked purely on the challenges we face this weekend. The Heineken Cup is capable of doing unique things to individuals and we are up against a side who have a special relationship with this competition and we want to get to the levels they have attained in the past.

“For us, home advantage gives us a little bit more of a lift – it gives us more confidence and maybe could be the margin that works for us on the day.

“It is up to us to go out and put a performance together we can be proud of and if we can do that then we can definitely be a threat, of that I have no doubt. We want to be moving and if we can do that I am sure we can challenge Munster.”

Declan Kidney (Munster) – “The statistics show that of the 44 games played to date in the (Heineken Cup) quarter-finals only eleven have been won by the away side. So that helps to point up what we will need to do in defence and attack to get out of here (Kingsholm) with a result.

“We are fortunate to have reached this stage of the season with the squad we have and as I’ve said, our backroom staff deserve huge credit for that as do the players themselves.

“It’s never easy to leave out good players when you’re picking your starting 22 but again the selection reflects the competition there is for places. Yes, there were tough calls. There always are when you have the quality of player we have in the squad.”

Top Scorers: 2007/08 Heineken Cup – Points: Gloucester: Ryan Lamb 73; Munster: Ronan O’Gara 83; Tries: Gloucester: Ryan Lamb 4; Munster: Shaun Payne, Rua Tipoki, Brian Carney and Marcus Horan 2 each.


Saturday, January 17, 2004: Heineken Cup Pool 5 – Munster 35 Gloucester 14, Thomond Park
Saturday, January 10, 2004: Heineken Cup Pool 5 – Gloucester 22 Munster 11, Kingsholm
Saturday, January 18, 2003: Heineken Cup Pool 2 – Munster 33 Gloucester 6, Thomond Park
Saturday, October 12, 2002: Heineken Cup Pool 2 – Gloucester 35 Munster 16, Kingsholm

– Munster qualified for the Heineken Cup’s knock-out stages this season by finishing as Pool 5 winners with 19 points (13 tries). Meanwhile, Gloucester managed to top the Pool 2 table with 24 points (24 tries). Munster were seeded sixth in the quarter-final draw and Gloucester were third

– Munster scored 13 tries in the pool stages of this season’s Heineken Cup – seven from the backs (Shaun Payne (2), Rua Tipoki (2), Brian Carney (2) and Lifeimi Mafi) and six from the forwards (Marcus Horan (2), Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Jerry Flannery and Denis Leamy)

– Munster are appearing in a record tenth quarter-final, one more than three-time champions Toulouse who are appearing in their ninth. The province’s Peter Stringer and John Hayes have appeared in a record nine quarter-finals – one more than team-mates David Wallace and Anthony Foley

– Munster are the only team to have won two away quarter-finals, at Stade Jean-Bouin against Stade Francais Paris in 2002 and at Welford Road against Leicester Tigers the following season