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Magners Preview: Munster v Scarlets

Magners Preview: Munster v Scarlets

The first and second-placed teams in the Magners League meet in Cork this evening, with Munster hoping to continue where they left off against Australia in midweek and the visiting Scarlets bidding for their ninth win in 12 competitive matches this season.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Sunday, November 21

MUNSTER (1st) v SCARLETS (2nd), Musgrave Park, 5.35pm (live TG4/BBC Wales)

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Team News: Barry Murphy will make a welcome return to Magners League rugby when Munster entertain the Scarlets at Musgrave Park on Sunday evening.

Owing to ankle, back and hamstring injuries, Murphy has been absent from the Munster starting line-up since September 2009.

The 27-year-old made a successful return with UL Bohemians recently and appeared as a second half replacement in Munster’s midweek win over Australia.

With Keith Earls recalled to the Ireland squad, Murphy will start at outside centre for Munster in this weekend’s clash with the Scarlets. It will be his first Magners League start since injurying his ankle against the Newport Gwent Dragons 14 months ago.

The second and final change to the side that beat the Wallabies 15-6 sees experienced flanker Alan Quinlan return in the back row, at the expense of Peter O’Mahony.

New Zealander Peter Borlase will make his Magners League debut in the front row, while Cork Constitution club-mates Billy Holland and Ian Nagle continue their second row partnership.

Munster currently hold a four-point lead over the Scarlets at the top of the Magners League, but there is a tight turnaround between the Australia game and the visit of the in-form Welsh region.

“It will be difficult, but that is the beauty of rugby,” explained Munster head coach Tony McGahan.

“You get a performance and a night like Tuesday and then you turn back around for Sunday, looking for four points against the Scarlets, a side which has been in great form.

“How the group and everyone manages that, to leave Tuesday night where it is, to park up for training on Thursday afternoon, and apply ourselves to a situation where there are four points on board will be important.”

Meanwhile, after winning their last four games in a row, including two LV= Cup victories over Leeds and London Irish, the Scarlets will be looking to maintain their run in this top of the table clash.

Although they are without their internationals Stephen Jones, Matthew Rees and new Wales wing star George North, the Scarlets can still field a strong team with the return of some of key men in the back-line including Morgan Stoddart on the wing, former All Black centre Regan King and in-form out-half Rhys Priestland.

International scrum half Tavis Knoyle has been released by Wales for game-time with his region and travels to Munster as a replacement.

And after some strong performances by the Scarlets’ new breed in the LV= Cup, Wales Commonwealth Sevens player Aaron Shingler (23) gets a starting place in the back row.

Peter Edwards starts in the front row and youngster Ben Morgan once again dons the number 8 jersey, with former Wallaby David Lyons failing a late fitness test.

MUNSTER: Johne Murphy; Doug Howlett, Barry Murphy, Sam Tuitupou, Denis Hurley; Paul Warwick, Duncan Williams; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, Peter Borlase, Billy Holland, Ian Nagle, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Ryan, Stephen Archer, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, Conor Murray, Tom Gleeson, Scott Deasy.

SCARLETS: Daniel Evans; Morgan Stoddart, Gareth Maule, Regan King, Lee Williams; Rhys Priestland, Martin Roberts; Iestyn Thomas, Ken Owens, Peter Edwards, Lou Reed, Dominic Day, Aaron Shingler, Johnathan Edwards (capt), Ben Morgan.

Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Phil John, Simon Gardner, Damian Welch, Jonny Fa’amatuainu, Tavis Knoyle, Dan Newton, Scott Williams.

Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Paul Haycock, Brian MacNeice (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Brian Fitzgerald (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/5; Draw: 22/1; Scarlets to win: 7/2

Pre-Match Quotes: James Coughlan (Munster) – “This is week 22 of our season, it will be our eighth Magners League game. We’ve worked hard to get to the top of the league. We’ve only lost once so far, to Leinster, and we don’t want to lose our grip on top spot.

“There’s a four-point gap between ourselves and the Scarlets at the top of the table, but this game is a case of getting back to reality for the squad.

“The Scarlets and ourselves are both missing some key players, but what Tuesday night proved is we have a lot of talented youngsters who are ready to take their chance in the Munster jersey.

“But that was a one-off. We can reflect and enjoy it at another stage. This weekend is about league points and maintaining our Magner League momentum.”

Nigel Davies (Scarlets) – “We know it’s going to be a difficult place to go, they’ve had a massive result this week beating Australia, but this will be no bigger game than last week and we came through that against a strong London Irish side.

“They’ll bring huge intensity, they fight on every inch of the field and they will look to disrupt our game. They will be hard and very physical and we will have to match them and front up, in order to be competitive in this game.

“However, that was something I was so encouraged by in our performance last week, we had a young team on the park last weekend and we out muscled a strong, experienced London Irish side.

“We’ve got a positive momentum at the moment and we’ve worked hard over the past 20 months to develop this group and build strength throughout this squad. As a result we now have a group of players who can more than ably step in when our more recognised stars are not available.

“That’s what you have to have to be successful in the league and it’s a focus for us this season.”

Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Munster – Points: Ronan O’Gara 68; Tries: Niall Ronan 3; Scarlets – Points: Stephen Jones 66; Tries: Jonathan Davies 6


Saturday, September 22, 2007 – Munster 26 Scarlets 16, Musgrave Park
Saturday, May 3, 2008 – Scarlets 23 Munster 24, Stradey Park
Friday, November 28, 2008 – Scarlets 16 Munster 18, Parc y Scarlets
Friday, April 24, 2009 – Munster 29 Scarlets 10, Musgrave Park
Saturday, September 19, 2009 – Scarlets 20 Munster 22, Parc y Scarlets
Thursday, March 18, 2010 – Munster 23 Scarlets 17, Musgrave Park


– Munster have won their last three games in all competitions and top the Magners League table

– The Munstermen have won their last four home matches since the Ospreys won 15-11 at Thomond Park on April 24

– The Scarlets have won their last four games in all competitions since their 46-10 defeat at Leicester in the Heineken Cup on October 17

– The Welshmen have won three of their last four games against Irish teams

– Munster have won their last nine games against the Scarlets in all competitions since the Llanelli side won 24-15 at the old Stradey Park in a Heineken Cup quarter-final in March 2007