Sunday 18 August 2019

Earls out as Carbery return is delayed

 

Joey Carbery. Photo: Sportsfile
Joey Carbery. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Joey Carbery will have to wait another fortnight for his return from his hamstring injury after losing his race to be fit for Munster's Guinness PRO14 quarter-final against Benetton this afternoon (3.0), while Keith Earls has been ruled out again despite initially being named in the starting XV yesterday.

The out-half has managed just 32 minutes of rugby since injuring the muscle during Ireland training in February and will have been limited to one outing against Edinburgh in 14 weeks if he makes his comeback in an away semi-final against his former team Leinster at the RDS.

To secure their spot in a rematch of last year's semi-final, Johann van Graan's side will need to beat the in-form Italians in Limerick today.

Conor Murray starts after being withdrawn in the warm-up of last week's win over Connacht, and he is partnered by Tyler Bleyendaal in the halfbacks.

Kieran Crowley's Benetton side reached the play-offs for the first time on the back of an excellent season and will provide a stiff test for the home side who welcome Rory Scannell back in the centre.

Munster yesterday announced that the fan who invaded the pitch at the Ricoh Arena at the end of their Champions Cup loss to Saracens has been banned from Irish Independent Park and Thomond Park.

They did not state the duration of the unnamed supporter's suspension, but it is understood that it equates to a lifetime ban.

Van Graan yesterday announced that a quartet of players will leave the club at the end of the campaign, with James Hart and Dave O'Callaghan bound for Biarritz. Duncan Williams and Mike Sherry, who has spent the last part of this season on loan at Gloucester, will also depart.

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Meanwhile, Connacht coach Andy Friend has chosen Kieran Marmion to start at scrum-half as his side look to beat Ulster for a third time this season and return to the PRO14 semi-finals for the first time since 2016 (5.35)

With Marty Moore absent from the Ulster starting team, the visitors will be hoping to take advantage at scrum-time, having dominated that area in the two previous meetings.

However, Ulster second-row Iain Henderson says the home side are ready as they look to book their place in an away semi-final against Glasgow.

"As a front five, it didn't sit easy with us in both games," the Ireland star said.

"I think Connacht always set up a good scrum in the front-row and a very good maul, which they dismantle other teams with.

"The fact we are aware of that, that we felt the blows from that this year on two occasions will make us slightly wiser to it."

Retiring pair Rory Best and Darren Cave will make their final Kingspan Stadium appearances in the game.

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