Thursday 29 June 2017

Erasmus aiming to stretch lead

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

John Fallon

There's only a point between Ospreys and Munster at the top of the Pro12 but Rassie Erasmus wants his men to show they are serious contenders by stretching that gap in Swansea today.

Historically, there has never been much between them in this competition. This is the 31st meeting with Munster having won 15, Ospreys 14 and one draw.

It will be tight at Liberty Stadium today but Erasmus is really looking forward to the test as they bid to extend their run.

"It is away from home against a team that, I think, haven't lost, something like 10 or 11 games in a row. There are definitely the highest-scoring team in the league, they run the ball from everywhere and they score beautiful tries.

"It will be interesting to see how we match up with them at this specific time of the year. It will be a hell of a game, hell of a game."

Erasmus has made five changes to his starting 15 after their comprehensive bonus-point victory over Dragons in Cork last weekend.

Ireland internationals Ian Keatley, John Ryan and Billy Holland all come back into the side for the top-of-the-table clash.

There are three changes up front, where tighthead prop Ryan starts in the front-row, Darren O'Shea comes into the second-row alongside Holland.

There are two further alterations in the back-line, where two-time All Black Francis Saili starts at outside centre and Keatley comes in at full-back.

"Edinburgh two weeks ago was a real test, the Dragons last week, we may have caught them off guard on one or two things, so it may have looked easier," added Erasmus. "The week before Edinburgh was a hell of a test for us.

"Now we are playing a team that is totally on a run, a team which is really confident, so it is definitely an interesting game and a hell of a challenge for us.

"It is an interesting time for us. It is a game we are playing during Six Nations, but it is a bye week in the Six Nations, so you are not quite sure during the week who will be released and how that will impact them and us with preparation.

"I'm not in any way moaning about anything, but it is also those different things that you throw into the mix and that sometimes has a different effect on a different team."

Verdict: Munster

OSPREYS - D Evans; K Giles, K Fonotia, A Beck, H Dirksen; S Davies, T Habberfield (capt); N Smith, S Baldwin, R Jones, L Ashley, R Thornton, O Cracknell, J King, s Underhill. Reps: S Parry, P James, D Suter, T Ardron, D Baker, B Leonard, L Price, B John.

Munster - I Keatley; R O'Mahony, F Saili, R Scannell, D Sweetnam; T Bleyendaal, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, J Ryan; D O'Shea, B Holland; D O'Callaghan, T O'Donnell, J O'Donoghue. Reps: K O'Byrne, P McCabe, S Archer, D Foley, C Oliver, A Griesel, D Goggin, A Conway.

Ospreys v Munster,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 5.15

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