Munster & Connacht Name Teams For PRO14 Showdown At Thomond Park
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Munster and Connacht have named their teams for this weekend’s Guinness PRO14 showdown at Thomond Park in Limerick.
A win for Johann van Graan’s Munster side will secure a place in the PRO14 final on Saturday, March 27.
Stephen Archer starts on his 224th appearance for the southern province and will overtake Marcus Horan to move into fifth place on Munster’s all-time list of record appearance holders.
There are eight changes to the side that won in Cardiff last week with Billy Holland returning to captain the side. Ben Healy comes into the side alongside new Ireland cap Craig Casey with the 21-year-olds forming the half-back partnership.
Mike Haley starts at full-back with Andrew Conway and Shane Daly on either flank. Rory Scannell moves to inside centre with Chris Farrell completing the midfield partnership.
James Cronin, Niall Scannell and Archer pack down in the front row with Fineen Wycherley and Holland in the engine room. Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete and Munster’s leading try-scorer Gavin Coombes make up the back row.
Joey Carbery is again named among the replacements having made his return from long-term injury off the bench in Cardiff last week.
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (C), Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, Jack O’Sullivan, Nick McCarthy, Joey Carbery, Damien de Allende.
Bundee Aki meanwhile, is retained at centre for Connacht following his release from Ireland duty last weekend, while Dave Heffernan and Ultan Dillane both start at hooker and second row respectively.
In all, there are 7 changes from the side that secured a last-minute win at Benetton. Denis Buckley comes into an experienced front row with Heffernan and Finlay Bealham, while Gavin Thornbury in the second row alongside Dillane.
Conor Oliver starts at openside flanker to face his former club, joining captain Jarrad Butler and Paul Boyle to complete the pack.
There’s a new-look half-back pairing of Caolin Blade and Jack Carty, while there are also new faces on the wings with Matt Healy and John Porch coming into the starting line-up. 12, 13 and 15 are unchanged from the Benetton win with Aki, Tom Daly and Tiernan O’Halloran all retained.
In all 9 of the starting 15 are Connacht centurions as the side look to extend an all-time club record of 5 straight wins away from home.
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Tom Daly, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Jarrad Butler (C), Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Jack Aungier, Niall Murray, Eoghan Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Sean O’Brien, Alex Wootton