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Magners Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Munster

Magners Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Munster

Fresh from his late cameo role against England last weekend, out-half Ronan O’Gara will captain Munster as they look to maintain their bid for the play-offs by overcoming the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, March 6

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS (7th) v MUNSTER (4th), Rodney Parade, 6.30pm (live Setanta Sports 1/S4C)

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Team News: Out-half Ronan O’Gara will captain Munster for their Magners League meeting with the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on Saturday.

O’Gara himself is the one personnel change to the Munster back-line that started the recent win over Edinburgh, with winger Ian Dowling, who played against the Scots, ruled out with an ankle injury.

In the pack, the front row is unchanged while Billy Holland partners Mick O’Driscoll in the second row and Tommy O’Donnell takes over form the injured Niall Ronan in the back row.

O’Donnell is set to win his tenth Munster senior cap while across from him in that back row will be another Clanwilliam man in Alan Quinlan who, in winning his 189th cap, is closing in on the province’s record held by Anthony Foley (201).

Commenting on the caps record, Quinlan said: “I’d have to say it’s not something I’ve been giving any thought to really, more concentrating on the job in hand.

“This is a big game for us. This is a very tight league, very competitive and our ambition is to be involved in the play-offs.

“Our away form hasn’t been good and that’s something we’re very aware of and looking to correct. But in saying that, Rodney Parade is never an easy place to go to get a result.

“The Dragons have improved immensely from when we played them, they’ve beaten Leinster here and last time out they drew at Ravenhill. That makes them a very good side.

“I’ve no doubt they’ll be up for this one big-time, so we can expect nothing less than a game of huge intensity that will go right down to the wire.”

Once again, Munster coach Tony McGahan makes use of his young bloods with highly-regarded Academy pair Ian Nagle and Scott Deasy named on the replacements bench, alongside Duncan Williams and Ciaran O’Boyle who scored a superb try in this fixture last season.

Meanwhile, Newport Gwent Dragons coach Paul Turner has announced his side for the region’s clash with the reigning Magners League champions.

Hooker Steve Jones has recovered from an abdominal injury to take up a place on the replacements bench.

Will Harries starts on the right wing, having returned from Sevens duty with Wales in Las Vegas, while international duo Luke Charteris and Danny Lydiate will line out after being released from the Welsh camp this week.

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: Martyn Thomas; Will Harries, Matthew Watkins, Ashley Smith, Aled Brew; Jason Tovey, Wayne Evans; Hugh Gustafson, Tom Willis (capt), Ben Castle, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris , Danny Lydiate, Gavin Thomas, Lewis Evans.

Replacements: Steve Jones, Pat Palmer, Rob Sidoli, Hoani Macdonald, Tom Riley, James Arlidge, James Leadbeater.

MUNSTER: Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi, Jean de Villiers, Denis Hurley; Ronan O’Gara (capt), Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll, Billy Holland, Alan Quinlan, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Damien Varley, Julien Brugnaut, Ian Nagle, Nick Williams, Duncan Williams, Scott Deasy, Ciaran O’Boyle.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Phil Fear, Matthew Thomas (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Tony Rowlands (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Newport Gwent Dragons to win: Evens; Draw: 20/1; Munster to win: 4/5

Pre-Match Quotes: Shaun Payne (Munster) – “It is a massive bonus to us to have Rog back. He will be disappointed obviously not to have started the game against England.

“You can be guaranteed one thing, he will be raring to go. It is a massive positive for us, especially when you consider the younger guys in the squad.

“There is no better role model or experienced guy to have in the squad that Rog.

“This weekend’s game is very important. It is one of the few away games we have left.

“I think we have a good chance of making the top four, especially if we pick up a win in this game.

“We will be looking for wins in all our games before the internationals come back. We have more home games left than away so a win on Saturday would be a great starting point to help us reach the final four this season.”

Paul Turner (Newport Gwent Dragons) – “We’ve got to tighten up when the right time comes. We’ve got a pretty good attacking game and I would like to think we’ve improved defensively.

“But when some sides put you right under the heat then that’s usually testing as well.

“We’ve got a little bit of an edge up front and we will need that this weekend. We’ve really got to muscle up against Munster.

“We’ve got to be smart and we’ve got to take our opportunities because if we don’t take ours, they will certainly take theirs.”

Top Scorers – 2009/10 Magners League: Newport Gwent Dragons – Points: James Arlidge 62; Tries: Aled Brew 4; Munster – Points: Jeremy Manning 30; Tries: Nick Williams 4


Saturday, April 28, 2007 – Munster 15 Newport Gwent Dragons 7, Musgrave Park
Friday, September 28, 2007 – Newport Gwent Dragons 16 Munster 26, Rodney Parade
Saturday, November 24, 2007 – Munster 45 Newport Gwent Dragons 19, Musgrave Park
Sunday, September 14, 2008 – Munster 50 Newport Gwent Dragons 6, Musgrave Park
Saturday, March 7, 2009 – Newport Gwent Dragons 9 Munster 20, Rodney Parade
Sunday, September 27, 2009 – Munster 27 Newport Gwent Dragons 3, Musgrave Park


– The Newport Gwent Dragons are unbeaten in their last three games in all competitions, however in the Magners League they are winless in their last three

– Munster’s only defeat in their last seven matches in all competitions was a 15-10 loss at Ulster in the Magners League on January 2

– The last eight games that Munster have played in the Magners League have all been won by the home side on the day

– The Dragons have not beaten Munster since a 12-9 success at Rodney Parade in the Magners League on January 5, 2007