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British & Irish Cup Final Preview: Cornish Pirates v Munster

British & Irish Cup Final Preview: Cornish Pirates v Munster

Munster will put their unbeaten record on the line when they meet Cornish Pirates in Sunday’s inaugural British & Irish Cup final at the Recreation Ground in Camborne (kick-off 6pm).


CORNISH PIRATES v MUNSTER, Recreation Ground, Camborne, 6pm (live Sky Sports 3, red button)

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British & Irish Cup Current Form – Cornish Pirates: WLWWWW; Munster: WWWWWW
British & Irish Cup Top Scorers – Cornish Pirates: Points: Rob Cook 55; Tries: Gavin Cattle 3; Munster: Points: Declan Cusack 39; Tries: Danny Barnes, Dave Kilcoyne, Tom Gleeson, Jeremy Manning, Mike Sherry, Duncan Williams 2 each

Cornish Pirates Results – Pool A: Cornish Pirates 29 Gael Force 8, Recreation Ground; Leinster 12 Cornish Pirates 10, Donnybrook; Plymouth Albion 9 Cornish Pirates 13, Brickfields; Cornish Pirates 37 Exeter Chiefs 14, Recreation Ground; Cornish Pirates 26 Newport 20, Recreation Ground; Semi-Final: Cornish Pirates 43 Doncaster Knights 5, Recreation Ground

Munster Results – Pool B: Coventry 13 Munster 20, Butts Stadium; Munster 18 Bristol 6, Nenagh Ormond RFC; Munster 18 Nottingham 3, Waterford RSC; Neath 12 Munster 21, the Gnoll; Munster 34 Heriot’s 7, Musgrave Park; Semi-Final: Munster 27 Ulster Ravens 3, Thomond Park

Preview/Team News: Munster remain the only unbeaten side in the inaugural British & Irish Cup, having won all six of their encounters in the competition so far.

The run has been based on a formidable defensive effort which has seen the Munstermen yield just three tries in 480 minutes’ playing time.

Sunday’s opponents, Cornish Pirates, finished in 6th place in the English Championship table this season but could not progress through their play-off pool to reach the semi-final stage.

The Pirates’ only victory in their last four matches in all competitions was the semi-final triumph in the British & Irish Cup at home to Doncaster Knights.

Munster coach Anthony Foley has made seven changes – three of them positional – to his team for the British & Irish Cup decider.

Tom Gleeson, Simon Zebo and Billy Holland return to the Munster British & Irish Cup team, while tighthead prop Dave Ryan saw action as a replacement against Leinster on Saturday night.

Gleeson, Zebo and Holland were all involved in Munster’s Magners League game against the Ospreys on the same day that Foley’s side overcame Ulster Ravens in their British & Irish Cup semi-final.

Holland’s inclusion means Tommy O’Donnell moves to his favoured openside berth in place of Eoghan Grace, while Dave Kilcoyne comes into the front row for Ryan.

In the backs, Gleeson slots in at the outside centre alongside Jeremy Manning, who scored two tries against the Ravens, with Danny Barnes moving to the right wing.

Ireland Under-20 international Zebo returns to the left wing and Sean Scanlon reverts to the full-back position in place of Mossie Lawlor who has been named on the replacements bench.

The Pirates are captained by former Scarlets player Gavin Cattle, who has young New Zealander Jonathan Bentley as his half-back partner.

Cattle has been named in the English Championship ‘Dream Team’ for the third time, an indication of his influence for the Cornish side.

Winger Rhodri McAtee, who won the Rugby World Cup Sevens last year with Wales, is a player to watch out for, while South African Nick Jackson is also a regular try scorer.

In the pack, local favourite Alan Paver, who has made over 200 appearances for the Pirates, and Kiwi duo Laurie McGlone and Blair Cowan have impressed throughout the cup campaign.

Pirates high performance manager Chris Stirling said: “We’re really looking forward to the game, but we are under no illusions of just how tough a task it’s going to be.

“We go into the game as underdogs, but we don’t mind in the slightest. We’ve been in that position lots of times but we’ve come through some strong tests along the way and I believe we can come through another on Sunday.”

CORNISH PIRATES: Wes Davies; Rhodri McAtee, Mark Ireland, Steve Winn, Nick Jackson; Jonathan Bentley, Gavin Cattle (capt); Carl Rimmer, Rob Elloway, Alan Paver, Laurie McGlone, Ben Gulliver, Chris Morgan, Dave Ward, Blair Cowan.

Replacements: Paul Andrew, Ryan Storer, Mike Myerscough, Sam Betty, Matt Evans, James Doherty, Tom Luke.

MUNSTER: Sean Scanlon (UCC); Danny Barnes (Dolphin), Tom Gleeson (Cork Constitution), Jeremy Manning (Cork Constitution), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution); Declan Cusack (Thomond), Duncan Williams (Cork Constitution); Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians), Mike Sherry (Garryowen), Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution), Dave Foley (UL Bohemians), Ian Nagle (Cork Constitution), Billy Holland (Cork Constitution), Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution) (capt).

Replacements: Sean Henry (UL Bohemians), AN Other, David O’Callaghan (UCC), Paddy Butler (Shannon), Conor Murray (Garryowen), Mossie Lawlor (Shannon), Ronan O’Mahony (Garryowen).

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)