Sunday 22 April 2018

Bleyendaal in as Keatley axed

Ireland out-half Ian Keatley is among those demoted to the bench
Ireland out-half Ian Keatley is among those demoted to the bench
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

It has been a summer of change down south and last week's stuttering win over Treviso won't have filled Munster supporters with much confidence for the season ahead.

Munster had to rely on a second-half comeback to see off the Italians, and Anthony Foley has responded by making eight changes for tomorrow's trip to Wales to take on Ospreys.

Munster's record at the Liberty Stadium is far from impressive, with just three wins from their last 12 games there, and Foley is only too aware of the scale of the task that lies ahead.

"They're a very good side. Liberty Stadium is a very hard place to play but hopefully we can learn from our mistakes there last year and build on what we did against Treviso and see where we end up," Foley said.

"Every team finds it hard in Swansea, we'll be no different, but we'll go to give a good account of ourselves and try to make it four from 13.

"You have to go there with a good mindset and understand the challenge that's ahead. We have the players well reminded of what's happened over there in the past."

New signings Francis Saili, Mark Chisholm make their first competitive starts for the province, as does (belatedly) Tyler Bleyendaal and Ireland U-20 star Stephen Fitzgerald.

Ireland out-half Ian Keatley is among those demoted to the bench.

Dave Kilcoyne returns to bolster the pack while Chisholm and Dave Foley get an opportunity to forge what looks likely to be Munster's first-choice second-row partnership.

"We have issues that we want to resolve, around the opportunities that we didn't take last week," added Foley.

"But I'd be more worried if we weren't getting those opportunities. We need to execute better and be a bit more ruthless when we're close to the line.

"Last year (against Ospreys), we made a rod to hit ourselves with. It's about controlling that and giving a good account of ourselves."

But with the Ospreys looking to bounce back from last week's opening defeat to Ulster, Foley's side may find it tough in south Wales again.

Verdict: Ospreys

Ospreys - D Evans; K Phillips, J Spratt, O Watkin, H Dirksen; S Davies, B Leonard; N Smith, S Parry, D Arhip; L Ashley (capt), R Thornton; J Bearman, S Underhill, D Baker. Reps: S Otten, M Thomas, C Griffiths, D Kock Steenkamp, O Cracknell, T Habberfirld, A Jenkins, R Fussell.

Munster - F Jones (capt); A Conway, F Saili, R Scannell, S Fitzgerald; T Bleyendaal, C Sheridan; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, S Archer; M Chisholm, D Foley; D O'Callaghan, J O'Donoghue, R Copeland. Reps: D Casey, J Cronin, BJ Botha, J Coghlan, CJ Stander, D Williams, I Keatley, D Johnston.

REF - D Phillips (IRFU)

Ospreys v Munster,

Live, TG4, tomorrow, 2.30

Irish Independent

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