Munster will lay down quite a statement of intent in the RaboDirect PRO12 if they can get the better of current pacesetters Glasgow Warriors – especially as no Irish province has won at Scotstoun Stadium so far in 2013.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, October 25
GLASGOW WARRIORS (1st) v MUNSTER (2nd), Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)
Team News: The Munster team to face Glasgow Warriors in Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 top of the table clash at Scotstoun Stadium has been named.
Backs Andrew Conway, Ivan Dineen and Ronan O’Mahony return to senior action after impressing for the Munster ‘A’ side in the last two weeks, while JJ Hanrahan starts alongside Conor Murray at half-back.
Johne Murphy and Keith Earls, who were on the wings for last weekend’s Heineken Cup win over Gloucester, make positional switches to full-back and outside centre respectively.
Head coach Rob Penney starts with a new front row for Friday’s encounter with hooker James Cronin making his third league start.
The Dolphin clubman will link up with Mike Sherry and Stephen Archer in the front row, and CJ Stander joins Sean Dougall and captain Peter O’Mahony in the back row.
Speaking about the changes in personnel, Penney said: “Due to the short turn-around and the travel and intensity of the last three weeks – and the importance of the next two weeks – there is a bit of freshening up in the group and this is why we’ve made a few changes.
“Glasgow are top of the table, semi-finalists who probably should have been in the final last year and they are the form team in the Rabo in, at least, the last nine months.
“It doesn’t get more difficult than playing them at their home ground and it’s as big as it gets in the Rabo at this time of the year.”
* In a late switch, Munster have confirmed that Keith Earls will not play against the Warriors with Casey Laulala taking his place in the starting line-up.
Earls irritated a tendon in his knee at training and has been ruled out of the round 6 fixture. Laulala will now start at outside centre and Cian Bohane moves up to the replacements.
Meanwhile, versatile back Sean Lamont returns to the Glasgow Warriors starting line-up having recovered from a calf injury.
Lamont will line out at inside centre alongside Byron McGuigan, as the Warriors look to continue their unbeaten run in the RaboDirect PRO12.
It is the same back-three which featured against Exeter Chiefs last weekend, with Sean Maitland selected at full-back and DTH van der Merwe and Tommy Seymour on the wings.
Duncan Weir replaces Ruaridh Jackson in the number 10 jersey, while Chris Cusiter comes in for Niko Matawalu at scrum-half and will captain the side.
In the pack Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur and Moray Low make up the front row, with the injured Ed Kalman unavailable this weekend.
Following his call-up to the Scotland squad, Jonny Gray comes into the side in place of regular skipper Al Kellock and he will partner Tim Swinson in the engine room. Tyrone Holmes, Rob Harley and Josh Strauss continue in the back row.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Sean Maitland; Tommy Seymour, Byron McGuigan, Sean Lamont, DTH van der Merwe; Duncan Weir, Chris Cusiter (capt); Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Moray Low, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Tyrone Holmes, Josh Strauss.
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Jon Welsh, Tom Ryder, Chris Fusaro, Niko Matawalu, Ruaridh Jackson, Mark Bennett.
MUNSTER: Johne Murphy; Andrew Conway, Casey Laulala, Ivan Dineen, Ronan O’Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Sean Dougall, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Damien Varley, David Kilcoyne, BJ Botha, Billy Holland, James Coughlan, Cathal Sheridan, James Downey, Cian Bohane.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Changleng, Bob Nevins (both Scotland)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Glasgow Warriors to win: 4/11; Draw: 18/1; Munster to win: 21/10
Pre-Match Quotes: Rob Penney (Munster) – “Glasgow have been one of the form teams in the league for the past nine or 10 months – they have done extremely well over the last few seasons,” he told the Irish Independent.
“They have built up a great record at Scotstoun and are unbeaten there since December so they will be very anxious to try extend that against us this evening.
“They are on a decent run and have won all five games, but we are going into it with four wins from five, so it should be a good contest given that we are first and second in the table.
“Three of our next four games in the Rabo are away from home and that will present challenges, but all of our focus at the moment is on Glasgow.
“That is why the Gloucester win had to be parked fairly quickly. There are two Rabo games coming up now, then the (November international) break and two more Rabo matches away to Blues and Dragons before the Heineken Cup resumes in December with the games against Perpignan.”
Gregor Townsend (Glasgow Warriors) – “We’ve been pleased with our early season form and we’re aiming to build on this in front of our home supporters. It’s been a quick turnaround for us this week but the squad have recovered well from last Sunday’s game (a 20-16 home win over Exeter).
“Our last home league game was against the reigning champions Leinster and we need a similar focus and intensity to what we displayed that night if we are to get a positive result.
“Munster are a quality side who mix up their attacking game by moving the ball wide at times as well as being direct if they get into the opposition half.
“Our two games against Munster last season couldn’t have been more different, losing by 28 points in Ireland and then winning by 27 points at Scotstoun. We are expecting a physical contest with first place in the league at stake.”
Top Scorers – 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12: Glasgow Warriors – Points: Stuart Hogg, Byron McGuigan 10 each; Tries: Byron McGuigan 2; Munster – Points: JJ Hanrahan 41; Tries: CJ Stander, James Cronin, Keith Earls 2 each
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, September 24, 2010 – Glasgow Warriors 29 Munster 43, Firhill Stadium
Saturday. January 8, 2011 – Munster 22 Glasgow Warriors 20, Musgrave Park
Friday, September 9, 2011 – Glasgow Warriors 12 Munster 23, Firhill Stadium
Saturday, April 14, 2012 – Munster 35 Glasgow Warriors 29, Musgrave Park
Saturday, December 1, 2012 – Munster 31 Glasgow Warriors 3, Thomond Park
Friday, March 29, 2013 – Glasgow Warriors 51 Munster 24, Scotstoun Stadium
– Glasgow Warriors’ only defeat in any tournament so far this season came two weeks ago at Toulon in the Heineken Cup
– The current leaders in the RaboDirect PRO12 have won their last ten games at Scotstoun Stadium in all competitions
– The Scotsmen have won all three games against Irish provinces played at Scotstoun in 2013
– Munster’s only defeat in their last six PRO12 encounters was 29-19 at Benetton Treviso in round 3
– The Munstermen have lost on their last two visits to Scotland in all competitions
– Glasgow’s 51-24 victory over Munster in March ended a six-match losing run against the province