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Foley Names Side For Final

May 29, 2015 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Anthony Foley has named his side to face Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO12 Final at Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium tomorrow evening. The Head Coach makes a number of tactical and injury enforced changes to the side that defeated Ospreys with BJ Botha in line to win his 100th Munster cap.

In total three changes are made for this weekend’s starting line-up.  Having failed a late fitness test Peter O’Mahony (hip) is unavailable for selection while injury also rules out Conor Murray.  The scrum half met with a specialist yesterday and is required to rehab a medial ligament knee injury for the next 6 weeks.
 
As expected, Andrew Smith, Eusebio Guinazu and Paddy Butler, all of whom stood out Tuesday’s training session, have recovered from their respective knocks to make the starting 15.
 
Good news also for Simon Zebo who has successfully completed his return-to-play protocols to start on the left wing.
 
In O’Mahony’s absence, Denis Hurley will captain the side for the seventh time this season.
 
The only change in the front row sees the centurion BJ Botha come in to start alongside Dave Kilcoyne and Eusebio Guinazu.  The tighthead becomes the fifth player this season – and the tenth of the current squad – to reach the century milestone for the province.
 
With Donnacha Ryan making the switch to 6 this weekend Billy Holland comes into the second row to partner Paul O’Connell for what could be the former Munster captain’s final game in the famous red jersey.
 
Ryan is the only change to the back row with Paddy Butler and last weekend’s Man of the Match CJ Stander completing the pack at 7 and 8 respectively.
 
Just one change across the backline sees Duncan Williams join the half backs alongside Ian Keatley, Andrew Smith continues his partnership with captain Denis Hurley in the midfield, while Simon Zebo, Keith Earls and Felix Jones will again start in the back three.
 
Having sustained a bruised knee in April, James Cronin returns to provide front row cover from the bench with Cathal Sheridan another returnee to the matchday 23.  The scrum half could feature in the Guinness PRO12 for the first time since November after successfully rehabbing a prolonged forearm injury.
 
Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Andrew Smith, Denis Hurley – capt., Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Eusebio Guinazu, BJ Botha; Billy Holland, Paul O’Connell; Donnacha Ryan, Paddy Butler, CJ Stander.
 
Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Sean Dougall, Jack O’Donoghue, Cathal Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, Ronan O’Mahony.
 
Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Guinness PRO12 Final, Saturday May 30th at Kingspan Stadium – KO 6.30pm.
 
Follow the conversation on Twitter: @munsterrugby #MunVGla #MakeKingspanHome

If you are travelling to the game, check out details on how to #MakeKingspanHome here. 

A limited number of remaining tickets are now on public sale. Click here to purchase online.
 
Meanwhile, tickets may also come available from Ulster fans re-selling their tickets via Ticketmaster's Ticket Exchange. Click here to check availability.

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Munster Well Beaten As Warriors Claim Title

May 31, 2015 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Munster’s final game of the season was to unfortunately end in defeat at the hands of the Glasgow Warriors at a rain-swept Kingspan Stadium as the Scottish side earned their first Guinness PRO12 title.

Munster  13-31  Glasgow Warriors
By Rory Holohan.
 

Full credit is to go the Scots who were deserving of the spoils given the excellence they showed throughout the eighty minutes and improved upon their runners-up position of last season.
 
The high energy in attack was seemingly unapparent in the opening few minutes of the game, this encounter being characterised by clearing kicks with both sides settling into the contest and aiming to gain territory and an early foothold in proceedings.
 
Warriors fullback Stuart Hogg was to claim each high ball that came his way early on, prior to taking off on darting runs that had support coming from each member of his backline.
Simon Zebo and Keith Earls were on defensive overdrive in the first ten minutes such was the width in attack that Glasgow came forward with.

The first real chance of a score was to come from Ian Keatley’s penalty on the Warriors ten metre line.  D.T.H. van der Merwe was the player penalised for being off his feet in the ruck but Keatley could not capitalise on the opportunity, being slightly too far to the left with his wind-aided effort.
 
Man Of The Match Leone Nakarawa was impeccable for the Warriors on the day and was exemplary in covering nearly every blade of grass on the pitch such was his determination to engineer his side’s many drives forward.

Indeed, the game’s first try scoring chance was orchestrated by Nakarawa.  His strong ball carry was stopped by three tacklers alone but not before he had offloaded to the supporting van der Merwe who would have raced away into the corner but for Captain Denis Hurley’s smart tap tackle that felled the winger.
 
There was to be no respite from that attack as Nakarawa came forward again, this time down the middle with pace as he fended off four would-be tackles before Rob Harley was on hand to pick and go from beneath the posts for the opening try. Finn Russell obliged with the easiest of ensuing kicks
 
The reply from Munster was instantaneous.  Felix Jones and Keatley were the men to lead the charge with a try looking to be on the cards as the forwards did their bit at the breakdown. The move ended in disappointment however, with BJ Botha primed to score on his 100th appearance for the province.
 
Van der Merwe’s pace on the left wing was a constant thorn in the side of Munster, such was his willingness to get forward, being an ever present threat to the high line held by the Munster-men. The winger would have had an earlier try to his name were it not for Earls’ fantastic diving tackle in the corner. Russell had sent the ball through with a well timed grubber kick and the Munster winger did excellently to bring both ball and man into touch.
 
Earls was not completely limited to defending in the first half though as he latched onto CJ Stander’s offload within the Warriors 22 metre line with twenty minutes gone and stepped inside his man, feeding the wing-swapping Simon Zebo who carried onto the try-line but not scoring, the Glaswegian defence doing well to fend off the supporting Kilcoyne and Guinazu.
 
O’ Connell, Holland and the Munster pack saw the fruits of their labour just a few minutes later as their power in the scrum told in successive Warrior infringements, Keatley punishing this with a penalty from 30 metres out.
 
Nakarawa was to make another crucial appearance as ball carrier as Glasgow found their second try immediately afterwards. The Fijian opted not to ruck as one would expect, instead holding the ball up high in the tackle before releasing van der Merwe on the left who had the acceleration to run in along the touchline and ground under the posts. Russell followed up with another simple two point effort.
 
The third try was again registered beneath the crossbar just three minutes later. Hogg was always to be the key danger man in Warriors’ attack and once he had dummied away from his opponent, the space opened up before him, opting to supply his scrum-half, Henry Pyrgos, who had the ease of advancing upon the unguarded try-line. Russell had to catch his breath, having just come forward in attack, before he added the third conversion.
 
Munster closed out the half with a morale boosting try from the brilliant Andrew Smith. Duncan Williams made the initial line break on the left and O’ Connell advanced the move with a ball carry that again came down agonisingly close to the line. Once play was moved out to the right, Smith’s charge into the corner was unstoppable with the TMO confirming his searing drive forward had not been in vain. Keatley’s conversion was to be the last action of an enthralling half.
 
Tries were the objective of Munster as the second half began. This told in the sequential kicks to the corner and each lineout being well claimed to start the attack. O’Connell was to be denied the ideal memento of a try as his customary run did end behind the try-line on this occasion but Richie Vernon was the tackler who got himself beneath the ball to hold up the Munster stalwart.

A score was to be found thankfully, Keatley again punishing Warriors indiscipline at the scrum with a well taken penalty kick.
 
Keatley’s opposite number, Russell, was to be the man who organised the next push forward as the fifty minute mark elapsed. Zebo was to mimic Earls’ diving tackle of the first half as Tommy Seymour chased into the corner another grubber kick through the defensive line.
 
However, the fourth try did follow shortly afterwards. Where Munster had unending pressure within the opposition twenty-two, Warriors had that and more. One sensed that either winger would claim the score themselves but it was to be their outhalf who dove over the try line, capping off the twenty-odd phase move that merits defensive credit for the Munster pack. Russell was then on hand to convert his own score.
 
Place kicks were not Munster’s answer to Warrior tries as Keatley sent to the corner each penalty that Nigel Owens awarded, yet the trademark O’Connell-led mauls were to go without a score at Kingspan.
 
Warriors were to make penalties of their own count as the match drew to a close. The previously dominant Munster scrum finally succumbed to the pressure of the opposition and Duncan Weir took full advantage of this with his penalty from close to the posts five minutes from the end.
 
The final whistle heralded the end of a fantastic game, Warriors crowned Guinness Pro12 Champions for the first time in their history.
 
After what might well have been his final game in the red of Munster, Paul O’Connell spoke to Sky Sports about his time at the province, commenting, “I’ve had a ball of a time”, with the hashtag #ThanksPaulie also trending on Twitter last night.

Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Andrew Smith, Denis Hurley – capt., Simon Zebo (O’Mahony 56); Ian Keatley (Hanrahan 56), Duncan Williams (Sheridan 71); Dave Kilcoyne (Cronin 62), Eusebio Guinazu (Casey 62), BJ Botha (Archer 60); Billy Holland (O’Donoghue 60), Paul O'Connell; Donnacha Ryan, Paddy Butler (Dougall 10 – blood sub & 71), CJ Stander.

Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Sean Dougall, Jack O'Donoghue, Cathal Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, Ronan O'Mahony.

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