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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Munster v Scarlets

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Munster v Scarlets

South African flanker CJ Stander is poised to make his debut off the bench when Munster entertain the Scarlets in the RaboDirect PRO12 on Sunday. A home win could see the province climb above Glasgow Warriors into third place in the table.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Sunday, November 25

MUNSTER (4th) v SCARLETS (2nd), Musgrave Park, 5.15pm (live TG4/S4C)

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Team News: Head coach Rob Penney has made a series of changes for the resumption of Munster’s RaboDirect PRO12 run against the Scarlets at Musgrave Park.

In the only positional switch, Ian Keatley reverts to his favoured out-half position occupied last time out by Ronan O’Gara, who will be on the bench for Ireland against Argentina this weekend.

Two of the five personnel changes made by the Munster management are injury enforced. Niall Ronan, who is back after almost two months, replaces Sean Dougall in the back row.

The number 8 jersey will be worn by Tipperary youngster Paddy Butler. He comes in for Tommy O’Donnell who sustained an ankle injury during last week’s ‘A’ interprovincial clash with Leinster.

Elsewhere, Wian du Preez starts ahead of Marcus Horan at loosehead prop, Ian Nagle partners Billy Holland in the second row this time around and James Downey is back as centre partner to Casey Laulala.

Eager to return to league action, flanker Ronan said: “I suppose injury is just part and parcel of the game, you’ve got to get on with it. I’m really looking forward to Sunday and getting back out there.

“The Scarlets are always a dangerous team no matter who plays for them. Home or away, they are invariably always tight games.”

He added: “We’ve concentrated on scrums and lineouts this week and if we can match them in those areas then I think we’ll have a good chance.

“We’re expecting a very tough game. I think the Welsh teams are very physical. We have to match them in the physical side – in the pack. If we don’t do that then we’ll be under serious pressure.”

Meanwhile, Morgan Stoddart makes his return to regional rugby at full-back for the Scarlets, stepping in as Liam Williams has been called up to the Wales squad in place of the injured George North.

The centre partnership remains unchanged from last weekend’s LV= Cup derby against the Cardiff Blues with Gareth Maule linking up with former Ospreys centre Gareth Owen.

Andy Fenby takes up his position on the left wing with Nick Reynolds in for the injured Kristian Phillips on the right touchline.

Aled Thomas, who showed strong form with the boot against the Blues, starts at out-half with Gareth Davies back at scrum-half.

Kirby Myhill and Samson Lee have been released back from training with the Welsh squad, adding some youthful power and energy to the Scarlets bench.

South African signing George Earle moves from the second row to cover back row following the number of international call-ups for the Scarlets back row players, in addition to injuries.

MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Doug Howlett (capt), Casey Laulala, James Downey, Luke O’Dea; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Wian du Preez, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, Ian Nagle, Billy Holland, David O’Callaghan, Niall Ronan, Paddy Butler.

Replacements: Damien Varley, Marcus Horan, BJ Botha, David Foley, CJ Stander, Peter Stringer, JJ Hanrahan, Denis Hurley.

SCARLETS: Morgan Stoddart; Nick Reynolds, Gareth Maule, Gareth Owen, Andy Fenby; Aled Thomas, Gareth Davies; Phil John, Emyr Phillips, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jake Ball, Richard Kelly, George Earle, Johnathan Edwards (capt), Craig Price.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Shaun Hopkins, Samson Lee, Johan Snyman, Dan Thomas, Rhodri Williams, Dan Newton, Adam Warren.

Referee: Laurent Cardona (France)
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton, Eanna O’Dowd (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Seamus Flannery (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/6; Draw: 25/1; Scarlets to win: 4/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Niall Ronan (Munster) – “We’re looking forward to a good run-in towards the New Year, and it’s a huge incentive to have four matches (out of six) at home where we are so far unbeaten.

“Lots of guys have been developing over the last few years and Rob (Penney) is bringing them to another level. They’re all buying into the game-plan and you can see that by their performances.

“We’re getting there slowly but surely and the young guys are enjoying their rugby. That has been showing in the overall performances.

“It was a boost to beat the Cardiff Blues (away) last time out and we’re now pretty confident of being able to compete against any team. We’re unbeaten at home and we want to keep it that way.”

Simon Easterby (Scarlets) – “These games can cement positions later on and picking up points on the road will be valuable – the top six is very tight again already with Ulster, ourselves, Glasgow, Munster, the Ospreys and Leinster all in the race.

“We know these teams will all be very competitive and challenging opponents in these next two rounds regardless of the number of internationals that are missing.

“Yes, we’re hit fairly hard from the number of international call-ups with up to 15 players away from our squad at the moment, but this is when our wide squad players really step up and the challenge of beating Munster on their home turf is one the boys are looking forward to.

“We know they’re a good team without their frontline players – they have a strong team mentality and know how to win games even when they’re not on the top of their game.”

Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 65; Tries: Tommy O’Donnell 3; Scarlets – Points: Aled Thomas 40; Tries: George North 7


Saturday, September 19, 2009 – Scarlets 20 Munster 22, Parc y Scarlets
Thursday, March 18, 2010 – Munster 23 Scarlets 17, Musgrave Park
Sunday, November 21, 2010 – Munster 27 Scarlets 26, Musgrave Park
Saturday. April 16, 2011 – Scarlets 6 Munster 13, Parc y Scarlets
Saturday, September 17, 2011 – Munster 35 Scarlets 12, Musgrave Park
Saturday, April 21, 2012 – Scarlets 20 Munster 20, Parc y Scarlets


– Munster have won their last three games in all competitions. The Munstermen’s only home defeat in the RaboDirect PRO12 since October 2011 was a 18-9 loss to Leinster at Thomond Park last March

– Munster have won their last 15 games at Musgrave Park since Glasgow Warriors won there 21-18 back in May 2008

– The Scarlets have won their last three matches in the RaboDirect PRO12 and are unbeaten in their last four encounters with Irish provinces in the competition

– Munster are unbeaten in their last 15 clashes with the Scarlets in all competitions since the Heineken Cup quarter-final in March 2007

– The Scarlets have lost on all of their seven previous visits to Musgrave Park