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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Munster v Edinburgh

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Munster v Edinburgh

Something will have to give at Thomond Park on Saturday as both Munster and Edinburgh successfully negotiated the opening rounds of European action unbeaten. Will Munster resume their league campaign on a winning note, or can Michael Bradley’s Edinburgh complete a rare season’s double over the men in red?

RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, November 26

MUNSTER (4th) v EDINBURGH (10th), Thomond Park, 8.30pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)

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Team News: With 13 members of the squad unavailable through injury and the likes of Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara and Conor Murray rested as part of the IRFU’s player management programme. Munster head coach Tony McGahan will give a host of younger players an opportunity to impress against Edinburgh.

Only two players, Will Chambers and Donncha O’Callaghan, remain from the side that started against Leinster earlier in the month.

Ten of Saturday’s matchday squad were involved in the Munster ‘A’ team’s British & Irish Cup win over Neath last weekend, while two more, skipper Mick O’Driscoll and Scott Deasy, were in France as back-up for the province against Castres Olympique.

There is a first start for young winger Luke O’Dea, Tomas O’Leary and Denis Hurley come in for their first starts of the current campaign and O’Driscoll and Donncha O’Callaghan are paired together in the second row for the first time since the Harlequins game last season.

The wholesale changes provide the new inclusions with a chance to impress, according to assistant coach Anthony Foley.

“Look, whatever side is selected, the players all train together, all sit down and review and preview the opposition. They work together in training. So everyone understands what is required,” he said.

“Edinburgh are coming here off the back of two great weekends in Europe but we’ve also won our opening two pool games.

“With Saturday’s match at Thomond Park and hopefully a massive support behind us, the opportunity is there for fellas to make a case for themselves because there are places up for grabs in the team.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh welcome back Chris Paterson and Phil Godman into their side as they look to extend their winning streak in all competitions to four matches.

Godman’s inclusion is the latest positive step in the return of the 23-times capped Scotland out-half, while Paterson starts for the first time since straining his groin in his return match from the Rugby World Cup against Leinster last month.

Paterson’s return sees Jim Thompson move in one place to outside centre where he partners James King who, like try-scoring winger Tom Brown, has been promoted from the bench following an impressive showing against Racing Metro last weekend.

Sep Visser, the 20-year-old younger brother of top try scorer Tim, has been handed his first competitive start on the right wing, while Mike Blair forms a familiar half-back partnership with Godman on his 150th match in the black and red.

In the pack Michael Bradley has challenged a new front-row trio to grasp the opportunity to impress against quality opposition, with Kyle Traynor and Jack Gilding propping alongside captain Steven Lawrie.

Steven Turnbull and Sean Cox start in the second row, while the back row unit is comprised of Netani Talei, Ross Rennie and Stuart McInally.

MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Luke O’Dea, Will Chambers, Danny Barnes, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Tomas O’Leary; Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, Paddy Butler.

Replacements: Sean Henry, John Ryan, John Hayes, Ian Nagle, James Coughlan, Duncan Williams, Tom Gleeson, Scott Deasy.

EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; Sep Visser, Jim Thompson, James King, Tom Brown; Phil Godman, Mike Blair; Kyle Traynor, Steven Lawrie (capt), Jack Gilding, Sean Cox, Steven Turnbull, Netani Talei, Ross Rennie, Stuart McInally.

Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Robin Hislop, Lewis Niven, Esteban Lozada, Roddy Grant, Greig Laidlaw, Harry Leonard, Gregor Hunter.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: John Carvill, Brian MacNeice (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Jude Quinn (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/3; Draw: 20/1; Edinburgh to win: 23/10

Pre-Match Quotes: Anthony Foley (Munster) – “There’s little errors in what we’re doing. They end up scoring out wide but it’s what’s happening in and around and close that’s the real problem and if we can get to the crux of the problem we won’t get caught out out wide.

“So it’s just a matter of ironing out the little errors. We’re only back together for four weeks with the full squad so there’s still a bit of teething.

“Hopefully over the next period of time, we’ve 13 games on the bounce up to the end of January, so at the end of that we should be ticking over well and all the little problems that have been highlighted will hopefully have been ironed out.

“I know it’s November but with the World Cup, it’s early season from a club point of view with everybody back together.

“There are those little issues but you can’t take away from the effort and performance of the players. They’ve put themselves out there, they’ve been in bad positions where other teams would probably throw in the towel but they just hang in there and manage to work themselves into positions to get us wins.”

Michael Bradley (Edinburgh) – “The last three weeks of successes all started with a win away against Benetton in Treviso which gave us confidence going into London Irish, which we converted, followed by the match against Racing Metro, which was a special day for everyone that was there.

“We’ve won three matches in-a-row but it would be great to win four. To do that we need to keep our performance levels up and show the same commitment for 80 minutes that we have in these three previous games.

“The boys are in a good place. They’re looking forward to the challenge against Munster away and then Aironi back home next week; both of which are important to us and our season.”

Top Scorers – 2011/12 RaboDirect PRO12: Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 73; Tries: Danny Barnes 3; Edinburgh – Points: Greig Laidlaw 85; Tries: Tim Visser 5


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
Friday, February 18, 2011 – Munster 23 Edinburgh 13, Thomond Park
Friday, September 30, 2011 – Edinburgh 29 Munster 14, Murrayfield


– Munster have won three of their last four games in all competitions., while their only home defeat this season was to the Ospreys at Thomond Park in the RaboDirect PRO12 on October 8

– The Munstermen have won their last six home games against Scottish opponents since Glasgow won 21-18 in Cork in May 2008

– Edinburgh have won three successive matches in all competitions, their best run since the opening stages of the 2009/10 season

– The Scotsmen’s only victory in their last eleven visits to Ireland since 2008 was 16-13 over Ulster at Ravenhill in September 2009

– The two sides already met in round 5 of the RaboDirect PRO12 with Edinburgh winning 29-14 at Murrayfield

– Edinburgh have not achieved a season’s double over Munster since the 2003/04 season