Tuesday 24 October 2017

Leinster's depth could hold the edge in Munster battle

Matt O'Connor has warned his team can't afford to be bullied, as they were in the first half of their last meeting with Munster. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
Matt O'Connor has warned his team can't afford to be bullied, as they were in the first half of their last meeting with Munster. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

This is the time of year when a team's strength in depth counts, and Leinster would appear to have more in reserve to get them over the line at Thomond Park this evening.

With a slew of internationals put on ice ahead of the Six Nations, Matt O'Connor is still able to field 12 players with Test match experience compared to Munster's seven.

His opposite number Anthony Foley will be hoping that his back-row in particular step up to the plate and deny their visitors good ball, because it is the Leinster backline that looks the more potent on paper - even if they have struggled to fire in recent weeks.

With Mike McCarthy and Kane Douglas in support, Dominic Ryan, Shane Jennings and Jack Conan can win the breakdown battle, while the front-rows look well-matched.

That should give the away team the platform for Ian Madigan - given a long-overdue run at out-half - the chance to bring those outside him into the game.

Verdict: Leinster

Munster: F Jones (capt); A Conway, P Howard, D Hurley, R O'Mahony; I Keatley, D Williams; J Ryan, D Casey, S Archer; Donncha O'Callaghan, B Holland; CJ Stander, T O'Donnell, R Copeland. Reps: K O'Byrne, E Guinazu, BJ Botha, Dave O'Callaghan, P Butler, N Cronin, JJ Hanrahan, J Murphy.

Leinster: Z Kirchner; D Fanning, L Fitzgerald, G D'Arcy, D Kearney; I Madigan, I Boss; M Bent, R Strauss, T Furlong; M McCarthy, K Douglas; D Ryan, S Jennings (capt) J Conan. Reps: A Dundon, M Van Dyk, J Hagan, T Denton, J Murphy, L McGrath, J Gopperth, N Reid.

Referee: N Owens (Wales).

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