Tuesday 12 December 2017

Munster to continue momentum

Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

In normal circumstances, a home game against Treviso demands nothing less than a victory and such has been Munster's form of late, they will certainly be eyeing the bonus point to go with it.

Rassie Erasmus was set to include Peter O'Mahony in his starting XV before his captain was called back to Dublin to provide injury cover for Sean O'Brien.

Nevertheless, there is plenty of experience in this Munster side, including Jack O'Donoghue, John Ryan and Billy Holland, who made their Ireland debuts against Canada.

Munster have won their last four games, including beating the Maori All Blacks two weeks ago, and confidence is high within the camp.

Sam Arnold (knee) makes his long-awaited debut, having joined from Ulster. The former Ireland U-20 centre impressed with Garryowen in recent weeks and he forms an exciting midfield partnership with Jaco Taute.

"Looking at the Italy game last weekend and beating South Africa, it just goes to show that you can't overlook anyone, particularly Treviso," Arnold said.

"They're quick off the line and they are very physical. We spoke about it, we're at home and playing in Thomond Park. Nothing less than a win is acceptable."

Former Leinster out-half Ian McKinley continues his remarkable journey after losing the sight in his left eye but a long afternoon lies ahead for his side.

Verdict: Munster

Munster - A Conway; D Sweetnam, S Arnold, J Taute, R O'Mahony; T Bleyendaal, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, J Ryan; D Foley, D O'Shea; J O'Donoghue, T O'Donnell (capt), R Copeland. Reps: N Scannell, T du Toit, S Archer, J Kleyn, B Holland, A Lloyd, I Keatley, A Wootton.

Treviso - J Hayward; M Tagicakibau, T Iannone, A Sgarbi (capt), L Sperando; I McKinley, T Tebaldi; A De Marchi, L Bigi, M Zanusso; F Gorosa, M van Vuren; M Lazzaroni, F Ferrarini, M Barbini. Reps: D Giazzon, F Zani, T Pasquali, R Santamaria, F Conforti, E Francescato, D Odiete.

Ref - M Adamson (SRU)

Cooney back with a bang

Connacht 18 Cardiff Blues 7

Tries from John Cooney and Bundee Aki helped Pro12 champions Connacht to their third win of the season at an icy Sportsground.

Pat Lam also handed a first cap to Marnitz Boshoff, but the loss of Craig Ronaldson before the half-hour mark was a big blow for the westerners, who held on for their second win in seven against the Blues.

In perishing conditions both sides struggled with the basics so it was no shock to see the opening score of the game arrive from the set-piece. A chip through from Stacey Ili forced Tomos Williams to carry the ball over his own line, and from the resultant scrum Connacht drove Cardiff backwards and Cooney got the crucial touch as John Muldoon lost control of the ball at the last moment.

Cooney was handed the kicking duties and he converted his own try from the left for a 7-0 lead, but Cardiff were level straight from the restart. Connacht did regain possession, but Jack Carty's long skip-pass was intercepted by Tom James who had an easy run-in try, which Steven Shingler converted.

Shingler missed an easy kick to give Cardiff the lead, and just on the cusp of half-time another huge shove at the scrum from Connacht drew a penalty, which Cooney kicked for a 10-7 interval lead.

Cooney added a second penalty in the 50th minute when Conor Carey was tackled without the ball and just short of the hour mark Aki ran in the crucial try after Niyi Adeolokun's lightning break and Tiernan O'Halloran's super offload.

Connacht - C Kelleher; N Adeolokun, B Aki, C Ronaldson (T O'Halloran 28), S Ili; J Carty (M Boshoff 67), J Cooney (C Blade 55); D Buckley (R Loughney 65), T McCartney (D Heffernan 55), C Carey (JP Cooney 67); Q Roux (L Stevenson 65), J Cannon; E McKeon (N Fox-Matamua 62), J Heenan, J Muldoon.

Cardiff Blues - D Fish (M Morgan 38); B Scully, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, T James (A Cuthbert 68); S Shingler, T Williams; R Gill (B Thyer 71), K Dacey (M Rees 67), S Andrews (T Filise 71); G Earle, J Hoeata (M Cook 52); J Turnbull, E Jenkins, J Navidi.

Ref - N Owens (WRU)

Daly red costs Blues dear

Scarlets 38 Leinster 29

Leinster's six-game winning run in the Guinness Pro12 crashed to a halt after two costly cards.

Barry Daly was sent off in the opening minute of the second half; that was after Mike McCarthy's first-half yellow that saw Scarlets score two tries.

Yet despite trailing 35-8 after 52 minutes, tries by Adam Byrne and Tom Daly hinted at a comeback before Andrew Porter's last-gasp score completed a rousing second-half display with a bonus-point.

Leaders Leinster arrived at Parc Y Scarlets in winning form yet little went their way in first half as they trailed 21-8 at the break.

Noel Reid's pass deflected off Richardt Strauss' head and into the grateful arms of Johnny McNichol.

McCarthy paid the price for Leinster's growing indiscipline with a yellow card on 21 minutes and Scarlets struck twice through prop Werner Kruger and wing Steff Evans.

Leinster mustered a response before half-time when Reid and Strauss again combined after Dominic Ryan's telling break and this time the hooker held on to score.

But winger Barry Daly was shown a red for a reckless challenge in mid-air, and Scarlets forwards Will Boyd and Ryan Elias charged over for a 35-8 lead.

Leinster found a way back when Byrne scorched through for his fifth try of the season. Tom Daly swiftly followed from Ross Byrne's kick but Scarlets stemmed the flow until Porter's late score.

Scarlets - A Thomas (G Owen 54); J McNicholl, S Hughes, H Parkes, S Evans; R Patchell (D Jones 11-16, 60), J Evans (A Davies 54); W Jones (D Evans, 53), R Elias (E Phillips 53), W Kruger (P Edwards, 72), T Price (T Beirne 50), D Bulbring (J Macleod, 53), A Shingler, W Boyd, J Davies.

Leinster - I Nacewa; A Byrne, R O'Loughlin (T Daly 53), N Reid, B Daly; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park (L McGrath 44); P Dooley (A Porter 53), R Strauss (J Tracey 44), B Bent (O Heffernan 64), M McCarthy (R Malony 53), I Nagle (P Timmins 73), D Ryan (Z Kirchner 44), J Conan, D Leavy.

REf - S Gallagher (Ire)

Irish Independent

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