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Munster Team To Face Toulon

March 30, 2018 11:58 am By The Editor

Andrew Conway and Simon Zebo both return from injury to start against Toulon.

The Munster team has been named by Head Coach Johann van Graan for the province’s record 17th Champions Cup quarter-final against French heavyweights Toulon at Thomond Park tomorrow (3.15pm).

There are six changes to the side that beat Scarlets 19-7 in the Guinness PRO14 last Saturday.

Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway are both back from injury having come through training this week with Stephen Archer and Grand Slam winners Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray and CJ Stander also returning to the side.

Zebo starts at full-back with Conway and Alex Wootton, Munster’s top try-scorer so far this season, on the flanks.

Rory Scannell, who has played every minute of Munster’s European campaign so far, continues his centre partnership with the impressive Sammy Arnold.

EPCR European Player of the Year nominee Conor Murray starts at scrum-half as Ian Keatley, who scored 61 points in six Pool games, takes the 10 shirt.

Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall and Archer get the nod in the front row as the ever-reliable Billy Holland and Jean Kleyn team up in the engine room.

Captain O’Mahony and CJ Stander come into the back row after their international exploits with no.8 Stander another man to have played all 480 minutes of the European campaign so far. Jack O’Donoghue keeps his place in the team after an excellent performance against Scarlets with the Waterford man moving from blindside to openside flanker.

The all-international trio of Niall Scannell, James Cronin and John Ryan make up the front row cover.

Having both faced Munster as Racing 92 players in last season’s Champions Cup, James Hart and Gerbrandt Grobler are in line to make their European bows for Munster off the bench.

Last week’s Man of the Match Robin Copeland, JJ Hanrahan and Darren Sweetnam complete the replacements.

Munster: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (C), Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, James Cronin, John Ryan, Gerbrandt Grobler, Robin Copeland, James Hart, JJ Hanrahan, Darren Sweetnam.

VIDEO | Jack O’Donoghue Interview

VIDEO | Conor Murray Champions Cup Profile

Munster - Match Page - Lineups - Preview

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Conway Magic Topples Toulon

March 31, 2018 6:31 pm By The Editor

Andrew Conway celebrates his try with Rory Scannell and Alex Wootton.

Munster will face either Clermont Auvergne or Racing 92 in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup in three weeks after an incredible win over Toulon in the Champions Cup quarter-final at a sold-out Thomond Park.

A late wonder try from Andrew Conway secured the win with Ian Keatley’s conversion giving the province a one-point victory after a pulsating encounter.

An incredible defensive effort was the bedrock for the win with a rock solid set-piece also proving crucial. Despite all that, Munster trailed 19-13 with six minutes to go but Conway caught the visitors out with a magnificent solo try to secure another famous European victory.

Toulon had all the possession in the early stages with the Munster defence phenomenal but a penalty and a drop-goal from Anthony Belleau gave the visitors a 6-0 lead.

The French side almost touched down in the very first minute through Chris Ashton but Simon Zebo did superbly to prevent the score as he reached the bouncing ball just before the winger although he injured himself in the process and had to be replaced later in the half.

Having soaked up all of that early pressure, Munster hit back just before the half-hour as Conor Murray was on the spot to touch down an opportunistic effort with the scrum-half spotting a knock-on at the base of a ruck to steal in and touch down.

Munster had earned that field position after a rampaging run from Jack O’Donoghue with Keatley then chipping in cleverly behind the defence. Toulon seemed to have done enough to prevent the score before Murray cleverly intervened to score.

The touchline conversion from Keatley was perfect and it was enough for a 7-6 lead at half-time.

Playing with the wind, Munster were on top in the early stages of the second half and it was Toulon’s turn to show the strength of their defence. Keatley was on target again on 55 minutes after the replacement front row of Niall Scannell, James Cronin and John Ryan made an immediate impact to win a scrum penalty with Munster moving 13-6 in front.

Francois Trinh-Duc entered the fray before the hour for Toulon and narrowed the gap to four with his first penalty after Munster were pinged for going in the side.

Toulon looked to have hit Munster with the killer blow with 15 minutes left as Trinh-Duc released Mathieu Basteraud and the centre broke clear before Ashton applied the finish. The conversion gave Toulon asix-point lead with time running out and it looked like the win had slipped through their fingers.

Up step Conway. After a huge effort by the pack and Murray to win back possession after a Toulon scrum, Munster were back on the attack but a knock-on gave possession back to Toulon.

Trinh-Duc cleared the ball up towards halfway and with the ball seemingly finding touch, Conway somehow stretched far enough the catch the kick before slaloming his way to the line for one of the all-time great Munster tries.

Keatley still needed to add the extras and he continued his 100% record to give Munster a 20-19 lead. Toulon still had five minutes to try and snatch the win but the incredible Munster defence weren’t to be beaten and held on for an outstanding win.

Peter O’Mahony was awarded Man of the Match but there were standout performances all over the field with Billy Holland, Rory Scannell and Sammy Arnold among the most prominent performers.

Munster: Simon Zebo (Darren Sweetnam, 25); Andrew Conway, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray (James Hart, 77); Dave Kilcoyne (James Cronin, 53), Rhys Marshall (Niall Scannell, 53), Stephen Archer (John Ryan, 53); Jean Kleyn (Gerbrandt Grobler, 77), Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (C), Jack O’Donoghue,(Robin Copeland, 59) CJ Stander.

Champions Cup Quarter-Final Round-Up

Munster have qualified for a record 13th Champions Cup semi-final and will travel to France to face either Clermont Auvergne or Racing 92 in three weeks.

Gerbrandt Grobler and James Hart made their Munster European debuts.

Simon Zebo departed with an injury in the first half and will be assessed by the medical team.

VIDEO | Rory Scannell Interview

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