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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Scarlets v Munster

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Scarlets v Munster

Munster have a chance to climb above the fifth-placed Scarlets when the sides meet in Llanelli on Saturday night. Rob Penney’s men will be fired up to erase memories of November’s lacklustre 13-6 defeat in Cork.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, February 16

SCARLETS (5th) v MUNSTER (6th), Parc y Scarlets, 6.30pm (live RTÉ Two/S4C)

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Team News: Hooker Mike Sherry will lead out the Munster team when they take on the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday night.

The 24-year-old Sherry becomes one of the youngest players to captain the province following on from fellow forward Peter O’Mahony, who led the side in the opening games of the 2011/12 campaign.

Sherry, who agreed a new two-year contract last month, starts in the number 2 jersey at Parc y Scarlets. Damien Varley, who has just penned a deal that keeps him at Munster for the next two seasons, was due to provide back-up as the reserve hooker.

But a knee injury has forced Varley out of the matchday squad, with Sean Henry taking his place on the replacements bench.

There are changes aplenty in Rob Penney’s starting line-up with Donncha O’Callaghan and Ronan O’Gara, two members of Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations squad, both included.

That means a switch to full-back for the in-form Ian Keatley, a position he occupied earlier this season against the Newport Gwent Dragons and Racing Metro 92.

Meanwhile, the Scarlets welcome back two of their Wales internationals for their big clash with Munster – winger Liam Williams and flanker Josh Turnbull return to the starting line-up.

Head coach Simon Easterby has rewarded recent strong performances and puts faith in the young half-back partnership of Owen Williams and Aled Davies, both of whom get starting jerseys on Saturday.

There are just three changes to the side that beat Connacht 25-15 last time out. Liam Williams returns on the right wing, a fully-fit Gareth Maule comes in at outside centre and South African tighthead prop Jacobie Adriaanse has been added to the front row.

SCARLETS: Gareth Owen; Liam Williams, Gareth Maule, Adam Warren, Andy Fenby,; Owen Williams, Aled Davies; Phil John, Emyr Phillips, Jacobie Adriaanse, George Earle, Johan Synman, Rob McCusker (capt), Josh Turnbull, Kieran Murphy.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhodri Jones, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Johnathan Edwards, Gareth Davies, Aled Thomas, Nick Reynolds.

MUNSTER: Ian Keatley; Denis Hurley, Ivan Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, Johne Murphy; Ronan O’Gara, Duncan Williams; Wian du Preez, Mike Sherry (capt), BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, Ian Nagle, CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell, Paddy Butler.

Replacements: Sean Henry, John Ryan, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Sean Dougall, Cathal Sheridan, Danny Barnes, Casey Laulala.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Neil Hennessy, Simon Rees (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Scarlets to win: 4/5; Draw: 20/1; Munster to win: Evens

Pre-Match Quotes: Johne Murphy (Munster) – “We played quite pragmatically (against Edinburgh) last week, kicked to the corners and Keats (Ian Keatley) really drove the game. It was probably one of his best games ever in that regard.

“He made right decisions, when to kick and when to run, and the times we ran out of our red zone was when it was on and we made good ground.

“We might have kicked a phase or two later because that was the right option at the time, so Keats was definitely last week making those decisions and it allowed us to start playing rugby in the right areas.

“The way we want to play is to grind teams down and then let loose in the last 20-25 minutes and we did that. I suppose it is a kind of blueprint of how we want to play.

“Now we need to go forward, there have been a couple performances like that throughout the year but we didn’t kick on and go where Rob (Penney) wants us to be, so hopefully we can do that this weekend.

“The Scarlets are just above us in the league, and there is a huge scramble for second place. There are only five points between sixth and second and everyone is chasing that second spot, that home semi-final.”

Simon Easterby (Scarlets) – “We’ve not made many changes to the starting line-up that won against Connacht, the boys that worked hard deserve their chance again and it’s important to try and get some continuity in the team for this block of rugby.

“It’s tight at the top of the league table, so this game is a huge one for both sides as it’s a chance to take points away from each other.

“We knew how important the four league games were going to be for our season and it was good start last weekend – but there’s still a lot of work to do and we have to back that up with a performance this weekend.

“I was pleased with how we reacted as a team after Connacht got that early try, we then took control in the second half and were pragmatic.

“With a kicking success rate of over 80%, we had a platform from which to take the game on in the second half. There was still plenty we’ll have to improve on get a result against Munster this weekend.”

Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Scarlets – Points: Aled Thomas 77; Tries: George North 7; Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 108; Tries: Tommy O’Donnell 4


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
Sunday, November 25, 2012 – Munster 6 Scarlets 13, Musgrave Park


– The Scarlets have won their last two fixtures at Parc y Scarlets, beating Leicester Tigers in the LV= Cup and Connacht in the RaboDirect PRO12

– Munster have won five of their last six contests in all competitions

– The Munstermen have won their last two away games in the RaboDirect PRO12, but have not won three in-a-row on the road in the same league campaign since the 2010/11 season

– The Scarlets beat Munster 13-6 at Musgrave Park in round 9, and have not completed a league double over the Munstermen since the 2003/04 season