Sport Rugby

Saturday 24 February 2018

In brief: McGahan ties up deals for key duo

Mick O'Driscoll and James Coughlan committed their future to Munster yesterday as Tony McGahan continued to build his squad for next season, writes Ruaidhri O'Connor.

The experienced duo have been joined in penning new deals by two of the province's up-and-coming tyros, winger Simon Zebo and out-half Declan Cusack, who have signed two and one-year contracts respectively.

Veteran O'Driscoll signed a one-year extension to keep him there until the end of next season, while 30-year-old Coughlan -- who had to bide his time before being considered a first-team player -- has signed a two-year deal.

"The club is delighted to continue signing key players to the rugby programme and this quartet, at opposite ends of the spectrum, is no different," McGahan said.

Munster stalwarts trundle over Ravens

Any team that can field Alan Quinlan and have John Hayes and Marcus Horan on the bench must be formidable, as was proved at Shaw's Bridge yesterday as Munster cruised to a 28-3 victory over Ulster Ravens and welcomed Felix Jones back from injury.

Ulster started with an early Niall O'Connor penalty but Munster gradually took control, with their forwards dominating proceedings.

Five minutes later, Ian Nagle charged over for Declan Cusack to convert. Prop Darragh Hurley was next and then just before half-time, after Ulster had a player yellow-carded, Cusack cruised through the defence from eight metres out. He added both conversions to make the score 21-3.

In the second period, Ulster had a wind advantage but although they came close to scoring on a couple of occasions, the robust Munster defence held. The visitors had a breakaway try from Billy Holland, which replacement Scott Deasy converted.

Ulster Ravens -- J Smith; D McIlwaine, D Cave, I Whitten, C Cochrane; N O'Connor, M Heaney; C Carey, J Burns, A Macklin, N McComb, D Tuohy, J Anderson, D McGuigan, A Birch.

Munster -- F Jones (T Smith 51); S Scanlon, D Barnes, S Tuitupou, L O'Dea; D Cusack (S Deasy h-t), D Williams capt (P Rowley 60 min); D Hurley (M Horan h-t), M Sherry (D Fogarty ht), S Archer (J Hayes 46 ); D Foley, I Nagle; A Quinlan (B Holland 51), N Ronan (T O'Donnell 51), P O'Mahony (P Butler 51).

Ref -- A Rogan.

Hines secures Clermont switch

LEINSTER second-row Nathan Hines has signed to play for Clermont next season.

The 34-year-old, Australian-born Scotland international is in his second season with Leinster, having spent four years with Perpignan, where he was part of the team that won the Top 14 final over Clermont in 2009.

Hines has won 72 caps for Scotland and five for the Lions, featuring mainly in the second-row, but also in the back-row. This weekend he lines up at blindside flanker in Scotland's final Six Nations match against Italy.

He will likely join Clermont after the World Cup, should he be included in the Scottish squad for the tournament.

Irish Independent

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