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Pro14

Munster Go Top with Scrappy Win in Wales

The Irish province record 10th win of the season and reclaim top spot from Glasgow Warriors

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Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Munster came out with a narrow 8-7 win against the Dragons in a rain-soaked Rodney Park on Saturday.

Both teams were missing a large number of international players due to 6 Nations duties, with Munster making 13 changes from the team that bet Exeter 9-7 last weekend.

The inexperience of the teams coupled with the rain ensured a scrappy game throughout with Munster needing a late Jean Kleyn try to secure the win.

The Dragons started the better of the two with early pressure resulting in a try for Lloyd Fairbrother in the 14th minute. Josh Lewis converted from the spot and handed the Welsh side a deserved 7-0 lead a quarter of an hour in.

The next score didn’t come until the half hour mark with Bill Johnston slotting home a penalty for the away side to leave the score at 7-3 in the Dragons favour come half-time.

After the break the stop, start pattern continued in the rain.

The turning point came in the 56th minute when Dragons lock Matthew Screech was handed a yellow card after pulling down a ruck, following a period of sustained Munster pressure.

Munster failed to take their chances until the 63rd minute with Jean Kleyn touching down over the line. With the score at 8-7 the conversion was missed, and Munster had to hold out.

That they did with Lewis missing a late penalty opportunity to win the game for the Dragons.

After the game, Munster head coach Johann van Graan praised his young team and pointed to their outstanding work in the line-out as they won all of their 18 throws.

“I want to make a special mention for the whole squad,” he said. “They are the future of Munster. Scrum and line-out wise I’ll take that performance any day of the week,” he added.

Captain Tyler Bleyendaal also mentioned his delight with the win and the performance of the young players around him.

“This was a young team with a lot of changes so this game was a new learning for a lot of them. I was happy with how we stuck at it and ground out a win,” he said.

The win puts Munster back at the top of conference A on 48 points, two ahead of Glasgow Warriors, who were top momentarily following their 9-3 win over Ospreys earlier in the weekend.

There is a break over the next couple of weekends for the provinces, with Munster hosting the Kings next on February 15th and will be looking to continue their run at the top.

Match Highlights:

Pro14

Scarlets Confirm Trio of Young Signings

The Scarlets have signed three new players following their announcement of the re-signings of a host of players

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(Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Scarlets have announced the signings of Danny Drake, Dane Blacker and Alex Jeffries ahead of the 2019/20 season.

Second-row Drake signs from New Zealand provincial side North Harbour and has been on the fringes of Super Rugby franchise the Blues.

The 24-year-old is looking forward to starting his new chapter in Wales with the Scarlets.

“I’m really excited to touch down on Welsh soil, fizzing to get stuck into the Scarlets culture and give it my all for the club and its supporters,” he said.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old scrum-half Blacker joins from the Cardiff Blues and will face stiff competition for a place in the Scarlets team where he will have to battle Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy and Jonathan Evans for a spot.

However, the youngster is happy to have signed his first professional contract, having been given some chances at Cardiff last year to impress.

“I’m delighted to sign my first professional contract with the Scarlets. It’s an honour to be a part of an exciting club and I am looking forward to the coming season,” he said.

Jefferies, a 24-year-old tight-head prop switches the Ospreys for Scarlets, having spent three years with his former club and is excited by the future.

“I am really looking forward to the next chapter in my rugby career at the Scarlets. I’m excited to work alongside a talented group players and coaches and the opportunity to make my own mark at the club. I am also looking forward to developing my game and with the right opportunities showing what I am capable of,” he said.

The young trio will add to the host of players that have re-signed with the Welsh region recently, including the likes of Jonathan Davies, Johnny McNicholl, Rob Evans and Ken Owens.

General manager of rugby at the club Jon Daniels is glad to welcome them on board and is encouraged for what the future holds.

“Danny, Dane and Alex are talented young players who will be excellent additions to our squad. We have worked hard to ensure we have put together a group of players capable of competing for silverware and re-signing players of the calibre of Johnny McNicholl, Jon Davies, Ken Owens, Rob Evans and others have been crucial to that. We are happy with the strength of the squad we have put together, but are always open to adding further players if they are the quality and right fit that we are looking for to move the Scarlets forwards. We are looking forward to welcoming the boys back for pre-season next week,” he said.

The Scarlets will be hoping to improve after a rather disappointing season and these new editions are definitely a step in the right direction.

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Pro14

PRO 14 Conferences Confirmed for Next Two Seasons

The PRO 14 have switched up the conferences for the next two seasons, but the Irish provinces remain in the same pairings

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(photo by Peter Fitzpatrick/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The PRO 14 conferences have been announced for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, with Glasgow Warriors and Leinster now in the same conference.

For the last two seasons Glasgow and Leinster have topped Conference A and Conference B respectively, even facing off in this season’s final, which the Irish province won 18-15.

It also means that while for the past two seasons they have both secured home semi-finals, the two will now battle for a single spot.

The other shift for the reigning champions is that they will move to Conference A and will be joined by Ulster.

That has left Munster and Connacht hopping over to Conference B.

Cardiff Blues and the Dragons have also swapped conferences for the upcoming season.

The interesting factors in the movements of the teams is that although they lost the final Glasgow were ranked as the top team, as it was based on the points gained during last season.

That also meant that Leinster, who qualified for the knock-out stage’s weeks before the end of the regular season were seeded in third as Munster had one extra point by the end of the season.

It all leaves Conference A looking a lot more competitive and gives other teams a chance to top Conference B and reach a home semi-final.

Conference A now contains Glasgow, Leinster, Ulster, Ospreys, Dragons, Zebre and the Cheetahs.

While Conference B features Edinburgh, Munster, Connacht, Cardiff, Scarlets, Benetton and the Kings.

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Pro14

It’s official. Stephen Larkham To Join Munster Rugby

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm Stephen Larkham will join the province as Senior Coach ahead of the 2019/20 season.

Larkham has signed with the province until June 2022, subject to obtaining a work permit, having spent the last four years working for Rugby Australia.

Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby Acting CEO Philip Quinn said: “We are very pleased to add Stephen to our coaching team and look forward to welcoming him to the province in August.

“Stephen’s values are very closely aligned with those of Munster and huge credit must go to the Professional Game Board and Johann for their work in bringing him to the province.

“Stephen is a very successful coach who had offers from other clubs so we are delighted that he has decided to join Munster.

“We now have a four-man coaching team with head coach Johann van Graan supported by senior coach Stephen, forwards coach Graham Rowntree and defence coach JP Ferreira.

“It has been our intention to recruit one more member for our coaching ticket and we will evaluate our needs prior to progressing with that process.”

Speaking about his move to Munster, Larkham said: “I am very excited and honoured to be joining Munster Rugby.

“A big part of my decision lies in the values of the club and the importance they place on community. I have come from a very similar environment and know how effective and enjoyable that can be.

“I have had a number of conversations with Johann and I’m very excited to be working with him, as our views on rugby are very similar.

“I’m also looking forward to meeting and working with not only the other coaches in Graham and JP but also the very talented group of players that Munster have.”

Larkham’s coaching career began at the Brumbies in 2011 with the former Australia international elevated to the head coach role at the Super Rugby side within three years.

His success at the Brumbies led to Larkham’s appointment to the position of Wallabies attack coach on a part-time basis in 2015, a role he combined with his Head Coach duties at the Brumbies.

He held this role as Australia reached the Rugby World Cup final in 2015 and departed the Brumbies in 2017 to work full-time for Rugby Australia.

The post Stephen Larkham To Join Munster Rugby appeared first on Munster.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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