High-flying Munster face crucial Connacht trip

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent


Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

High-flying Munster face crucial Connacht trip

MUNSTER will hope it’s a case of third time lucky at the Sportsground on New Year’s Eve in their Guinness PRO12 derby clash with Connacht, 5.30pm.

Munster have lost out to the PRO12 champions on each of their last two visits to Galway.

Connacht completed a ‘home-and-away’ double over Munster last season in the PRO12 and the Western province has won three of the last four meetings between the sides.

Table toppers Munster sit two points ahead of the Ospreys in the PRO12 table, with Leinster five points behind their Irish rivals in third.

Munster second row Jean Kleyn appreciates the difficult nature of the task facing the side in Galway.

Jean Kleyn said: "It (standard in PRO12) is way up there. I have to say it is very competitive and then when you make the step up to European Cup it is another level. It is world class, I have to say.

"The only thing I can compare it to is playing the New Zealand sides in Super Rugby. It is very similar, it is very fast rugby, very hard rugby.

“I have to say I have been enjoying it immensely. From the two games I played European Cup so far, it's been great.

"I do know that we have had a tough time going up there (to play Connacht in Galway) the last two times so we will want to be correcting that.”

The game is televised live on TG4.

CONNACHT: Tiernan O'Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Rory Parata, Peter Robb, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney (capt), Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Jake Heenan, Naulia Dawai. Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, John Andress, Lewis Stevenson, Daniel Qualter, Caolin Blade, Ciaran Gaffney, Rory Moloney.

MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Dan Goggin, Ronan O'Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Dave Foley, Billy Holland (capt), Tommy O'Donnell, Jack O'Donoghue. Replacements: Dave Kilcoyne, Kevin O'Byrne, Thomas du Toit, Robin Copeland, Conor Oliver, Te Aihe Toma, Rory Scannell, Jaco Taute.

REFEREE: David Wilkinson (Ireland)