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O’Donoghue To Captain Munster For The First Time

February 16, 2018 11:41 am By The Editor

Jack O'Donoghue will lead Munster against Cardiff Blues tomorrow.

The Munster team to face Cardiff Blues in Wales on Saturday evening has been named with Jack O’Donoghue set to captain the side for the first time (5.30pm, live on Sky Sports).

24-year-old O’Donoghue becomes the first Waterford player to captain Munster in the professional era having previously captained Munster A along with Waterpark, Munster and Ireland at underage level.

There are 10 changes to the side that recorded a bonus-point win over Zebre at Thomond Park last Saturday night.

Stephen Fitzgerald, fresh from signing a new contract, comes in at full-back for his first start of the season as Ronan O’Mahony also makes his first start of the season on the left wing after a long-term injury with Darren Sweetnam on the opposite flank.

Ireland international Rory Scannell comes back into the side to partner Sammy Arnold in the centres with Ian Keatley partnering Duncan Williams at half-back.

A new front row sees Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall and Stephen Archer all return to the starting XV.

Gerbrandt Grobler makes his first start in the PRO14 and partners Darren O’Shea in the second row as the Crosshaven man makes his ninth appearance of the campaign.

Captain O’Donoghue and no.8 Robin Copeland, Man of the Match last week, keep their places in the back row with Chris Cloete coming into the team at openside flanker.

In the replacements, Tyler Bleyendaal returns from a neck injury and could make his first appearance since the Champions Cup clash in Castres last October.

Hooker Mike Sherry is in line for his third appearance of the season with props James Cronin and Stephen Archer also among the replacements.

Flanker Dave O’Callaghan is set for his second appearance of the season after returning from a knee injury with Jean Kleyn providing the second row cover.

Scrum-half James Hart is set to make his first appearance since December with Simon Zebo completing the replacements.

Munster: Stephen Fitzgerald; Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan; Gerbrandt Grobler, Darren O’Shea; Jack O’Donoghue (C), Chris Cloete, Robin Copeland.

Replacements: Mike Sherry, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Dave O’Callaghan, James Hart, Tyler Bleyendaal, Simon Zebo.

Next home game

Guinness PRO14: Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Irish Independent Park, Fri 23 Feb, 7pm; Tickets from just €7 with Family packs (two adults and two children) available for just €40. Tickets available online, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, or by calling 061 421103.

Munster - Match Page - Lineups - Preview

Losing Bonus-Point For Munster In Cardiff

February 17, 2018 7:35 pm By The Editor

Darren O’Shea attempts to block Lloyd Williams' kick.

A Tyler Bleyendaal penalty in the final play saw Munster snatch a losing bonus-point after a strong second-half comeback in the Welsh capital as Cardiff Blues ran out deserving winners of this Guinness PRO14 clash.

Chris Cloete scored a first-half try as Munster trailed 19-5 at the interval with a Stephen Fitzgerald converted try and penalties from Ian Keatley and Bleyendaal securing a point for Munster.

Munster remain in second place of Conference A in the Guinness PRO14 with leaders Glasgow Warriors visiting Irish Independent Park next Friday (7pm) – tickets available here.

Having made 10 changes to the side that beat Zebre 33-5 last weekend, Munster were unable to generate much momentum early on although Keatley did get a penalty opportunity after a Cardiff offside but the kick sailed left of the posts.

The Blues then enjoyed a golden eight-minute period with the hosts clinically scoring three tries to streak into a 19-point lead. The first try arrived on 18 minutes as Macauley Cook crossed in the right corner after a looping pass from Ellis Jenkins with the initial inroads coming down the short side after a clever lineout move.

Scrum-half Lloyd Williams was the next to cross as he was able to block down Duncan Williams’ box kick and collect the loose ball to race over for Cardiff’s second try in the right corner just five minutes after their first.

Jarrod Evans converted superbly and kicked his second conversion moments later as the Blues were in again on 26 minutes with a Rey Lee-Lo kick in behind gathered by Owen Lane to give Cardiff a 19-0 lead.

The visitors did well to recover their composure after that onslaught with Cloete hitting back with Munster’s first try after 33 minutes. The score came from a rolling maul after Cardiff conceded a number of penalties with Munster going for the corner. Cloete did superbly to score as the Munster pack were stopped just short of the line and the flanker burrowed his way over from a few yards out.

Trailing by 14 at the break, Munster came flying out the blocks for the second half and Keatley’s first penalty on 43 minutes made it 19-8. A sustained period of pressure yielded Munster’s second try with Fitzgerald crossing as Keatley’s conversion narrowed the gap to just five points with Cardiff’s Matthew Rees in the sin bin.

With less than half an hour remaining, Johann van Graan’s side were back in it but Cardiff managed to steady the ship with out-half Evans slotting a 67th-minute penalty to give the hosts some breathing room.

A second Evans penalty with four minutes to go looked like it would leave Munster empty-handed but a late surge ended with Bleyendaal holding his nerve to kick a last-gasp penalty to secure a losing bonus-point.

PRO14 Round 15 Round-Up

In leading Munster, Jack O’Donoghue became the first Waterford player to captain the province in the professional era.

Gerbrandt Grobler made his first start in the Guinness PRO14.

Stephen Fitzgerald and Ronan O’Mahony made their first starts of the season.

Munster: Stephen Fitzgerald; Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony (Simon Zebo, 56); Ian Keatley (Tyler Bleyendaal, 61), Duncan Williams (James Hart, 69); Dave Kilcoyne (James Cronin, 54), Rhys Marshall (Mike Sherry, 61), John Ryan (Stephen Archer, 54); Gerbrandt Grobler, Darren O’Shea (Jean Kleyn, 54), Jack O’Donoghue (C), Chris Cloete, Robin Copeland (Dave O’Callaghan, 69).

Next home game

Guinness PRO14: Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Irish Independent Park, Fri 23 Feb, 7pm; Tickets from just €7 with Family packs (two adults and two children) available for just €40. Tickets available online, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, or by calling 061 421103.

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