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Leinster Rugby vs Munster Rugby
Guinness Pro12 Round 19
Aviva Stadium, Dublin,
Saturday, 2nd April 2016, 17:30

Television: TG4/Sky Sports 3

It's Leinster v Munster at the Aviva!

In the past this fixture was seen more as an appetiser for both teams' return to action in the European Cup quarter-finals. Alas this season, neither team made the quarter-finals in Europe so the Pro12 is the only show in town. It's hard to think of a previous time that both teams arrived at this fixture so desperate for a win. Leinster have lost two in a row and need to stop the rot while Munster know they need a win to have any realistic chance of making the top four for the play-offs. While Munster are currently fourth in the table on 52 points, Glasgow's game in hand away to Zebre next week effectively means that the Scots are really fourth on 56 points. So if they lose tomorrow, Munster's hopes of a top four finish are effectively gone.

It's been a tough season for Munster, summed up by their defeat to Cardiff two weeks ago, a game they would never have lost in the past. Coach Anthony Foley has made five changes to the team that beat Zebre last week. The return of James Cronin and C.J. Stander are the only two changes to the pack. There are three changes to the backline with Conor Murray, Francis Saili and Andrew Conway all returning to the starting team.

Leinster were very poor last week away to Connacht and their tactics at times were frankly daft, especially in how they tried to manage the playing conditions. Coach Leo Cullen has responded by making nine changes to the team. In the backs Eoin Reddan, Johnny Sexton, Zane Kirchner and Dave Kearney come in to start. In the pack Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy and Jamie Heaslip all start this week.

Leinster will be desperate to find some attacking rhythm after scoring no tries and only 15 points in their last 200 minutes of rugby. Munster will also search for some form to repeat their win in the Aviva from last season. It's going to be a tough, scrappy match but the return of Sexton will hopefully give Leinster the edge.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Munster Rugby
Teams Zane Kirchner
15 Simon Zebo
Isa Nacewa (C) 14 Andrew Conway
Garry Ringrose 13 Francis Saili
Ben Te'o 12 Rory Scannell
Dave Kearney
11 Keith Earls
Johnny Sexton
10 Johnny Holland
Eoin Reddan 9 Conor Murray

Jack McGrath
1 James Cronin
Sean Cronin 2 Niall Scannell
Tadhg Furlong 3 Stephen Archer
Devin Toner 4 Donnacha Ryan
Hayden Triggs 5 Billy Holland
Rhys Ruddock 6 Dave O'Callaghan
Jordi Murphy 7 Tommy O'Donnell
Jamie Heaslip 8 CJ Stander (C)

Replacements Richardt Strauss 16 Mike Sherry
Cian Healy
17 Dave Kilcoyne
Mike Ross 18 John Ryan
Ross Molony 19 Robin Copeland
Josh van der Flier 20
Jack O'Donoghue
Luke McGrath
21 Tomas O'Leary
Ian Madigan 22 Ian Keatley
Fergus McFadden 23 Darren Sweetnam

Not Considered
due to Injury
Edward Byrne,
Tom Farrell,
Marty Moore,
Royce Burke-Flynn,
Gavin Thornbury,
Jack Conan,
Sean O'Brien,
Mike McCarthy,
Ross Byrne,
Luke Fitzgerald

Peter O'Mahony,
Tyler Bleyendaal,
Mark Chisholm,
BJ Botha
Officials Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 44rd competition game),
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Mark Patton (IRFU),
Citing Commissioner: Peter Ferguson (IRFU),
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2016-04-01