Sunday 21 January 2018

Pro14: Keatley to face Cheetahs, Tiernan O’Halloran returns for Connacht while Ulster welcome back three Irish internationals

Ian Keatley
Ian Keatley
Tiernan O’Halloran in action for Connacht

Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus makes just one change to the side that defeated Benetton for tomorrow evening’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Cheetahs at Thomond Park (5.15pm.)

Ian Keatley comes in for Tyler Bleyendaal at out half with second row Billy Holland taking charge as captain this weekend.  Following strong showings in round one, loosehead Liam O’Connor and blindside Sean O’Connor retain their starting positions.

Tiernan O’Halloran returns to the Connacht side as South African outfit the Southern Kings make the long journey to the Showgorunds tomorrow (Kick off 7.35pm).O’Halloran is named at full-back in a side that sees three changes from the XV that started the opening round game against Glasgow Warriors.

Inside centre Tom Farrell and flanker Sean O’Brien are also included in the starting fifteen with Eoin Griffin and Eoghan Masterson taking their places among the replacements. In a positional switch Darragh Leader moves from full back to the wing as O’Halloran returns.

"Tiernan returned to full training in the past week and we are very happy with his progress so he starts at full back," said head coach Kieran Keane.

"The Kings have a good few changes in personnel from their time in Super Rugby but I expect their style of play to remain the same. We are expecting a tough physical game and some exciting rugby on Saturday and our guys are going to have to be ready for that."

Meanwhile, Ulster welcome back three Irish internationals for Saturday's trip to Treviso (Kick off 18.05).

Jacob Stockdale, Kieran Treadwell and Luke Marshall are all included as head coach Led Kiss makes five personnel changes to the team that beat the Cheetahs in the Pro14 opener last weekend.

Stockdale and Treadwell, who both made their Irish international debuts during the summer tour of the USA and Japan, have been included in the starting XV, while Marshall is also in line to make his first Ulster appearance of the season as he is named among the replacements.

Stockdale is the sole personnel change in the starting backline that contributed 4 of the 6 tries in the opening round win over the Cheetahs, as he comes in to join captain Andrew Trimble and Louis Ludik in the back three.

Summer signings John Cooney and Christian Lealiifano continue their half-back partnership, while Stuart McCloskey and Tommy Bowe are also retained in midfield.

Treadwell will wear the number five jersey as he accompanies Robbie Diack in the second row, with loose head prop Callum Black coming in alongside Rob Herring and Wiehahn Herbst in the front row.

MUNSTER (v Cheetahs)

Munster: Andrew Conway, Darren Sweetnam, Chris Farrell, Jaco Taute, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Liam O’Connor, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland – capt.; Sean O’Connor, Tommy O’Donnell, Jack O’Donoghue.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Fineen Wycherley, Robin Copeland, James Hart, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo.

CONNACHT (v the Southern Kings)

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon

Replacements (16-23): Dave Heffernan, Denis Coulson, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade, Steve Crosbie, Eoin Griffin.

ULSTER (v Treviso)

(1-8): Callum Black, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst, Robbie Diack, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Jean Deysel;

(9-15): John Cooney, Christian Lealiifano, Jacob Stockdale, Stuart McCloskey, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble (Captain), Louis Ludik.

Replacements (16-23): John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Rodney Ah You, Peter Browne, Chris Henry, David Shanahan, Peter Nelson, Luke Marshall.

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