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Magners Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Munster

Magners Preview: Newport Gwent Dragons v Munster

Rodney Parade is the destination for table-topping Munster when they take on the Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday. The sides’ league positions suggest a win for Munster, but a word of warning – Tony McGahan’s men have lost on their last three visits to Wales.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, November 26

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS (11th) v MUNSTER (1st), Rodney Parade, 7.05pm (live RTE 2/BBC Wales)

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Team News: Dave Ryan will make only his second ever start in the Magners League as Munster look to strengthen their grip on top spot by beating the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

Munster coach Tony McGahan has made four changes to the team that started last Sunday’s hard-fought win over the Scarlets in Cork.

Ireland international Tomas O’Leary makes a welcome return at scrum half, having recovered from a broken thumb. He replaces the injured Duncan Williams (ankle) in the starting line-up.

Friday’s game will mark O’Leary’s first appearance for Munster since sustaining the injury against Leinster in early October.

Lifeimi Mafi also returns from suspension and has been included amongst the replacements.

Up front, Dave Ryan gets a chance to impress at loosehead prop and veteran John Hayes replaces Kiwi recruit Peter Borlase on the tighthead side of the scrum.

The final change sees Tommy O’Donnell take the blindside flanker berth, with Peter O’Mahony dropping to the bench.

Pleased to have O’Leary and Mafi back available, Munster team manager Shaun Payne said: “Tomas has recovered from his thumb injury. He’s been training with us to a limited degree.

“We didn’t want him to do damage. He’s had his recovery period now and he’s fit and ready to go.

“Lifeimi has been caged up for the last seven weeks. It’s been difficult for him. We’ve been relatively successful over the last couple of weeks with the Australia game, a good performance up in Ulster, and with 21 contracted players missing we still managed to win against the Scarlets.

“There is a good feeling in the squad at the moment and it’s been difficult for Mafs to sit and watch that.

“He’s also raring to get back into it and make a contribution. There is only so much training you can do.”

Meanwhile, Wales squad members Aled Brew and Toby Faletau have earn recalls to the Newport Gwent Dragons team for the visit of Munster.

Brew started fo Wales in last weekend’s 16-16 draw with Fiji, while young back rower Faletau was an unused replacement.

A neck injury keeps Scott Morgan out of the matchday squad, but centre Tom Riley is fit to return after missing last Saturday’s defeat to Leinster with a hand injury.

Morgan’s starting place in the second row goes to Luke Charteris, while Faletau is back at number 8 in a back row that is completed by Lewis Evans and Gavin Thomas.

Prop Ben Castle adds to the men of Gwent’s options on the bench, having featured in a club game for Newport against Pontypridd last weekend.

Dragons boss Paul Turner said: “It’s always a big night when Munster come to town and It’s no different this Friday.

“We need to start picking up some points, that’s for sure, and take ourselves up the league.”

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: Pat Leach; Adam Hughes, Tom Riley, Ashley Smith, Aled Brew; Jason Tovey, Wayne Evans; Phil Price, Tom Willis (capt), Nigel Hall, Luke Charteris, Rob Sidoli, Lewis Evans, Gavin Thomas, Toby Faletau.

Replacements: Lloyd Burns, Ben Castle, Hugh Gustafson, Adam Jones, Hugo Ellis, Tom Cheeseman, Jonathan Evans, Matthew Jones.

MUNSTER: Johne Murphy; Doug Howlett (capt), Barry Murphy, Sam Tuitupou, Denis Hurley; Paul Warwick, Tomas O’Leary; Dave Ryan, Mike Sherry, John Hayes, Billy Holland, Ian Nagle, Tommy O’Donnell, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Sean Henry, Wian du Preez, Peter Borlase, Brian Hayes, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Scott Deasy, Lifeimi Mafi.

Referee: Alan Falzone (Italy)
Assistant Referees: David Bodilly, Phil Connett (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Newport Gwent Dragons to win: 11/8; Draw: 20/1; Munster to win: 4/7

Pre-Match Quotes: Jason Holland (Munster) – “After last weekend, four points would be beautiful but we know what the Dragons have got to throw at us. They’ll be direct, kick the ball a lot and they’ll want to outmuscle us so that’s a good challenge for our pack to stand up to that.

“We’ve just got to be nice and simple in what we do, nice and direct, do the simple things well and basically follow the same sort of route we’ve followed the last couple of weeks: do the simple things well and be skilful enough to score the tries.

“And if we see a few more tries like the ones we saw against the Scarlets, it will be nice – nothing too complicated, just doing the same sort of things we’ve been doing and wear them down.

“The Dragons? For years it’s been a brutal place to go and get a result. These boys are a totally different team at home so we’re under no illusions that we’re going to have to be every bit as good as we’ve been in the last couple of weeks to get a result.”

Paul Turner (Newport Gwent Dragons) – “I’m well aware of the squad Munster are sending over, but we are getting back to some kind of strength. As a team we have lacked cohesion, we need to look after the ball better.

“I’m pleased with our defensive structure which has improved but we can’t miss one-on-one tackles like we did in Dublin last week and get away with it. We need points now if we are to climb up the table.

“It was pretty disappointing Toby didn’t get on against Fiji, but it’s good to have him and Aled back. It’s down to other people to select the national side.”

Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Newport Gwent Dragons – Points: Matthew Jones 47; Tries: Will Harries, Adam Hughes 3 each; Munster – Points: Ronan O’Gara 68; Tries: Niall Ronan 3


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
Saturday, March 6, 2010 – Newport Gwent Dragons 31 Munster 22, Rodney Parade


– The Newport Gwent Dragons slipped to a 27-6 defeat at the hands of Leinster last Friday to end their two-match winning sequence in the Magners League

– The Dragons have won their last six matches against Irish sides at Rodney Parade

– Munster continue to top the Magners League after a third straight victoy in the competition at home to the Scarlets last Sunday

– The Munstermen’s only loss away from home in their last four Magners League trips was a 13-9 defeat to Leinster in round 5

– Munster have lost on their last three visits to Wales. The Dragons won their most recent clash with Munster (31-22) at Rodney Parade last March and are bidding for back-to-back wins over the province for the first time since 2007