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Munster on red alert to stop Clermont juggernaut

Munster v Clermont Auvergne, Thomond Park, Today (KO 5.30)

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The power and resources of Clermont are reflected in the fact Jonathan Davies can only find a seat on the bench.

This comes as no surprise when Aurelien Rougerie and Wesley Fofana man the midfield. For all of this, it is in the trenches where the war will be won.

There, they bring heavy artillery too with French internationals in their captain Damien Chouly and lineout guru Julien Bonnaire to compliment a back row completed by the power of import Fritz Lee.

The front five are not to be taken lightly. Loose-head Tomas Domingo is a pocket rocket, hooker Benjamin Kayser is battle hardened and Clement Ric is not exactly an innocent bystander.

The engine room will burn with the ferocity of Canada's Jamie Cudmore, an old sparring partner of Paul O'Connell's, and the gigantic Sebastien Vahaamahina.

In behind, France's new out-half Camille Lopez has a beautiful kicking game and his clever use of the ball will test out Munster's back three.

Coach Anthony Foley sends out the clarion call to arms to O'Connell, Peter O'Mahony and the new kid on his block Dave Foley.

The front row of BJ Botha, the inexperienced Duncan Casey and Dave Kilcoyne will be on red alert at scrum-time to provide a decent platform for number eight CJ Stander.

The industry of captain O'Mahony and athleticism of Tommy O'Donnell should not be overlooked in the grander scheme.

There is no reason to believe Foley will stray from the tactical approach that stymied Saracens. The pressure game will apply through the kicking of Conor Murray and Ian Keatley.

Munster: F Jones; G van den Heever, P Howard, D Hurley, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, D Casey, BJ Botha, P O'Connell, D Foley, P O'Mahony (capt), T O'Donnell, CJ Stander.

Clermont: N Abendanon; N Nakaitaci, A Rougerie, W Fofana, N Nalaga; C Lopez, L Radoslavjevic; T Domingo, B Kayser, C Ric, J Cudmore, S Vahaamahina, D Chouly (capt), J Bonnair, F Lee.

Verdict: Munster.


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