Monday 19 March 2018

Erasmus looks for big Munster response in Cardiff

Ian Keatley starts at out-half for Munster. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Ian Keatley starts at out-half for Munster. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus says the Munster players must bounce back with a win over Cardiff Blues this evening but he will continue to experiment before the business end of the season takes over.

Erasmus makes five changes to his side for the game at Cardiff Arms Park after Munster fell to their first defeat since December at home to Scarlets last weekend.

Munster held a 21-6 lead at half-time against Scarlets last time out but they slipped up at Thomond Park and surrendered their leadership at the top of the Pro12.

But Erasmus knows that he did the right thing going with a youthful looking line-up against Scarlets, and Ireland U-20 youngster Fineen Wycherley is on the replacements' bench this evening as he looks set to make his debut in Cardiff.

"Cardiff were the last team to beat us at home before the weekend and the way to turn that around is to win," said Erasmus.

"We don't have a lot of opportunities to try out things. We are in a position we are trying to stay in that top four and trying to get a semi-final if possible. But we are also in the European quarter-finals.

"And if we don't do and try things now, it won't be in the last three or four games or in the European games where we will try things. We have to give it a go now and sometimes you will find out the hard way."

But Erasmus has added more experience this week and there are two changes in the pack where Billy Holland captains the side from the second-row. Darren O'Shea comes in to partner him instead of Dave Foley who is suffering from illness, while Robin Copeland returns from a thumb injury.

There are three further changes in the backline where Ian Keatley starts at out-half. Rory Scannell begins at inside-centre while Andrew Conway comes in at full-back, hoping to impress Joe Schmidt.

Cardiff have beaten Munster in their last two Pro12 fixtures, but prior to that Munster were on a five-game winning streak against the Blues.

Verdict: Munster

Cardiff Blues - M Morgan; A Summerhill, W Halaholo, S Shingler, T James; G Anscombe, L Williams (capt); C Domachowski, M Rees, A Peikrishvili, G Earle, J Hoeata, M Cook, N Williams, J Navidi.

Reps: K Myhill, M Thomas, T Filise, J Down, S Bennett, T Williams, G Smith, R Williams.

Munster - A Conway; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, R O'Mahony; I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, S Archer; D O'Shea, B Holland (capt), D O'Callaghan, R Copeland, T O'Donnell. Reps: K O'Byrne, P McCabe, B Scott, F Wycherley, C Oliver, A Griesel, D Goggin, F Saili.

  • Cardiff Blues v Munster, Live, Sky Sports 2, 5.15

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport