Sunday 18 March 2018

McGahan names strong line-up for Scarlets

Hugh Farrelly

MUNSTER seek to promote their top-four credentials when they host the Scarlets in their rescheduled Magners League clash at Musgrave Park this evening.

Despite being without a host of Ireland internationals, coach Tony McGahan is able to name a strong side that includes summer tour hopefuls Peter Stringer at scrum-half, left-wing Ian Dowling (recovered from an ankle injury) and Marcus Horan at loose-head prop. Jean de Villiers forms a midfield partnership with Tom Gleeson, as Lifiemi Mafi is unavailable after picking up three yellow cards.

Scott Deasy starts at full-back with Paul Warwick filling the No 10 jersey in Ronan O'Gara's absence. Up front, Julien Brugnaut slots in for Tony Buckley at tight-head, with Damien Varley at hooker in a side that shows eight changes from the team that suffered a disappointing defeat away to the Dragons last time out.

Mick O'Driscoll captains the side from second-row where he partners Billy Holland, while in-form Dolphin No 8 James Coughlan pushes Nick Williams over to blindside, with Niall Ronan taking the open-side role.

If Munster are strong, then so too are the Scarlets, particularly at centre, where the youth and power of Jon Davies is combined with the canny experience of New Zealander Regan King. Another player to watch out for is right-winger 'Smokin' Joe Ajuwa who ran riot in their last victory at home to Ulster.

In the pack, the Scarlets will look to Australian No 8 David Lyons for front-foot ball and Deacon Manu is decent opposition for Horan at scrum time.

The Welsh side have their own play-off ambitions, but have not won outside Wales since beating Connacht in January 2009 and have not won in Munster since 2003. Munster won their last match at home against Edinburgh and would fancy a packed Musgrave Park to propel them to victory again.

However, this Scarlets side have the ability and desire to push them all the way.

Verdict: Munster

MUNSTER -- S Deasy; D Howlett, T Gleeson, J de Villiers, I Dowling; P Warwick, P Stringer; M Horan, D Varley, J Brugnaut; M O'Driscoll (capt), B Holland; N Williams, N Ronan, J Coughlan. Reps: D Fogarty, D Ryan, A Quinlan, T O'Donnell, D Williams, J Manning, D Hurley.

SCARLETS -- D Newton; J Ajuwa, R King, J Davies, A Fenby; R Priestland, T Knoyle; I Thomas, K Owens, D Manu; L Reed, D Day; J Turnbull, R Pugh, D Lyons (capt). Reps: P John, E Phillips, D Welch R McCusker, M Roberts, D Evans, G Maule.

REF -- N Paterson (SRU)

Munster v Scarlets,

Live, Setanta Sports 1, 7.30

Irish Independent

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