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Magners Preview: Munster v Edinburgh

Magners Preview: Munster v Edinburgh

Munster have an immediate chance to put their stumble in Treviso behind them when they entertain Edinburgh on Friday. Tony McGahan’s men are bidding for their 12th straight home win of the season.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, February 18

MUNSTER (1st) v EDINBURGH (8th), Thomond Park, 7.50pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)

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Team News: Nine players have been brought into the Munster team for Friday’s Magners League meeting with Edinburgh at Thomond Park.

Of the six players retained from the defeat to Benetton Treviso, only Doug Howlett, Damien Varley, Tommy O’Donnell and James Coughlan will start in the same positions.

Lifeimi Mafi switches to outside centre to accommodate the move of Paul Warwick to inside centre from out-half where he played in Treviso.

Ronan O’Gara returns to the side as does Peter Stringer and Denis Leamy, who will captain the side from blindside flanker.

Mick O’Driscoll, who led the Munster revival when introduced against Treviso, partners Donnacha Ryan in the second row and O’Donnell and Coughlan form the back row combination with the experienced Leamy.

The province’s replacements bench includes fit-again front rowers Denis Fogarty and Marcus Horan who have been getting game-time with Cork Constitution and Shannon respectively in the Ulster Bank League.

Head coach Tony McGahan said: “Last week we travelled to Italy with a number of players who hadn’t been available to us for the previous three weeks because of first, their involvement with the Ireland Wolfhounds and then, in the week of the game, with the Ireland senior squad. So the idea of them starting wasn’t practical.

“However, that gave us the opportunity to continue to expose a number of players at the professional level.

“The short turnaround and availability of national squad players has seen a number of changes to a game that takes on greater importance after dropping three points last weekend.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s interim head coach Nick Scrivener has made four personnel changes to the team that ran out at Rodney Parade last weekend.

In the backs, James King replaces John Houston at inside centre, the latter having taken a blow to his knee in the 30-22 defeat to the Dragons.

Up front, Scott MacLeod has been released from the Scotland squad to take a place in the second row alongside Steven Turnbull.

Elsewhere in the pack, Ross Rennie returns at openside, having come off the bench in both of Scotland’s matches so far in the RBS 6 Nations Championship. Fraser McKenzie, meanwhile, moves from lock to blindside flanker.

MUNSTER: Johne Murphy; Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi, Paul Warwick, Denis Hurley; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, Tony Buckley, Donnacha Ryan, Mick O’Driscoll, Denis Leamy (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan, Stephen Archer, Ian Nagle, Billy Holland, Duncan Williams, Tom Gleeson, Simon Zebo.

EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; Lee Jones, Ben Cairns, James King, Tim Visser; David Blair, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Kyle Traynor, Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Scott MacLeod, Steven Turnbull, Fraser McKenzie, Ross Rennie, Netani Talei.

Replacements: Alun Walker, Lewis Niven, David Young, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Nick De Luca, Simon Webster, Jim Thompson.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Dudley Phillips, Brian MacNeice (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Brian Fitzgerald (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/9; Draw: 25/1; Edinburgh to win: 5/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Mick O’Driscoll (Munster) – “It was a very strange sort of game (against Treviso). We had loads of possession in the first half and nothing to show for it.

“Then, in the second half, we lost players and things went badly wrong for us. But if we’re to take positives, it has to be getting the younger lads getting out there.

“Then, how we came back to put ourselves in a position where we could have won it, when at one stage earlier it looked all over.

“There’s no point in us beating ourslves up. That game’s done with. If we learn from it we can move on positively.

“We need to continue on (tomorrow) from where we finished last weekend. Keep our focus for the run-in because the games we’ve left are going to be harder and we really want to be involved in the knock-out stages.

“We know what Edinburgh bring to the table, but tomorrow night is about us. It might sound cliched but we need to concentrate on our performance, the way we want to play and the result will take care of itself.”

Nick Scrivener (Edinburgh) – “The way Munster play has changed slightly in the last few years, and there’s no doubt they’ve got a number of dangerous weapons in the backs, but the basics of their game are always at a very high level and we should take our lead from that.

“We’ve shown right across the season that we can play, but for us to properly take advantage of that and get back to winning matches, we need to give ourselves a platform.

“We have to look after the ball better, especially away from home, and make sure we don’t let matches get away from us in a short space of time as was the case last Saturday.

“It’s about tightening up our game, really fronting up physically, and achieving consistency of performance.”

Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Munster – Points: Ronan O’Gara 107; Tries: Niall Ronan 3; Edinburgh – Points: Chris Paterson 97; Tries: Tim Visser 10


Friday, February 15, 2008 – Edinburgh 7 Munster 11, Murrayfield
Friday, September 5, 2008 – Edinburgh 15 Munster 20, Murrayfield
Saturday, February 21, 2009 – Munster 28 Edinburgh 14, Musgrave Park
Friday, October 23, 2009 – Edinburgh 12 Munster 7, Murrayfield
Friday, February 19, 2010 – Munster 19 Edinburgh 12, Musgrave Park
Friday, September 10, 2010 – Edinburgh 13 Munster 16, Murrayfield


– Table-topping Munster’s four-match winning run in the Magners League came to an end in Treviso last Sunday

– The Munstermen have won all 11 home matches they have played in all competitions this season. Munster have won their last five encounters with Scottish opponents

– Edinburgh have lost their last four fixtures in all competitions. The Scottish side’s sole victory on the road in their last 17 matches was a 10-9 triumph over Aironi in the Magners League on October 2

– Edinburgh’s most recent win in Ireland was a 16-13 victory at Ulster on September 18, 2009

– Munster have lost just once in their last eight clashes with Edinburgh since 2006, going down 12-7 at Murrayfield on October 23, 2009