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Munster Name Much Changed Side to Play Dragons

Munster will be hoping to stay top of conference A with a in over the Welsh outfit

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Photo By Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster are looking to continue their recent winning streak when they face the Dragons in Rodney Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Irish province head into the match sitting top of conference A with 44 points, two ahead of Glasgow Warriors. While the Dragons lie in sixth in conference B with only four wins in 13 games and only 18 points.

When the two sides met earlier in the season Munster were comprehensive 49-6 winners.

However, this time around, both teams are without some key men due to 6 Nations duties, with Munster changing 13 players from last weekend’s win over Exeter.

The much changed starting XV sees Tyler Bleyendaal start at inside centre and captain the side. He is joined in the centre by Dan Goggins, with a back three of Mike Haley, Darren Sweetnam and Ronan O’Mahony.

Alby Mathewson and Bill Johnston start in the half-backs pairing.

Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshell, and Stephen Archer come into the front-row. While Jean Kleyn, the only man other then Haley to retain his place, is partnered by Billy Holland in the second-row.

The pack is completed by Fineen Wychorley, Conor Oliver, and Arno Both in the back-row.

The Dragons are missing six first team players that were called up by Wales including Ross Moriarty and Hallam Amos.

Former Leinster utility player Zane Kirchner is on the bench after starting at full-back last weekend in their 49-7 loss to Clermont, in the European Challenge Cup.

Richard Hibbard captains the side in a mostly unchanged pack from that match.

Munster No 8 Arno Botha has told his team mates that the level cannot drop now that the Irish internationals are gone and that the team must perform.

“We have Munster standards, and Munster isn’t just some guys, it’s the team. We remind ourselves that the Munster standards remain whole in the team,” he said.

While head coach Johann van Graan reiterated Botha’s comments and has warned his team of the chasing pack that includes the likes Glasgow and Connacht.

“We have got to keep performing week in and week out,” he said.

A win at the weekend would see Munster record five wins in a row in all competitions and ensure that they remain top of the conference. While a win for the Dragons could be a timely reminder to fans that there is hope.

Pro14

Ulster to welcome 1,000 fans for Scarlets clash

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster Rugby last night announced that 1,000 supporters will be welcomed to the Kingspan Stadium this weekend. Statement from Ulster Rugby below:

The doors of Kingspan Stadium will open to 1,000 supporters this weekend when Ulster Rugby welcome Scarlets in Round 7 of the Guinness PRO14 (Sunday 22 November, kick-off 7.35pm).

The Ulster Men have played behind closed doors since the opening game of the season against Benetton Rugby when the club successfully trialled the safe return of spectators following extensive consultation with the IRFU, Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Executive.

All 500 pairs of tickets will be made available to #TogetherUlster Members only via an online ballot process. Members who applied for tickets to the Benetton match but missed out due to limited availability will receive priority in the ballot.

Sunday night’s match will feature a mix of seating and terracing in operation across all four stands and the East Terrace. Tickets are again priced at £20 each, allocated in groups of two with two-metre physical distancing factored in.

The online ballot will be open for 24 hours from 1pm on Tuesday 17 November on the Ulster Rugby Ticket Account Manager, and account holders can apply for one pair of tickets per every Adult #TogetherUlster Membership held. All successful applicants will be notified on Wednesday evening once the ballot has closed and tickets have been allocated. Members will then have until 1pm on Thursday 19 November to confirm their ticket purchase and process payment.

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Pro14

Bad news on the injury front for Munster back-rower

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster medical department have issued the latest player update with Liam Coombes, John Hodnett and Alex McHenry all ruled out due to respective injuries.

The young trio sustained knocks in different training sessions and will not be available for this weekend’s clash.

Alex McHenry underwent surgery for a thumb injury and will not be available for the coming weeks, while Liam Coombes has sustained a minor hamstring injury.

Unfortunately, it is a longer-term outlook for John Hodnett who sustained an achilles tendon injury.  The Academy back row will undergo surgery early next week before commencing his rehabilitation programme.

A fourth player is already self-isolating after returning a positive test result from Monday’s PCR testing.  The player remains well, and no other players have been identified as close contacts.

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Pro14

Rea to win 50th cap v Cardiff

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Matty Rea is set to make his 50th Ulster appearance in the Guinness PRO14 Round 4 clash against Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade on Monday (kick-off 6pm).

The 27-year-old Ballymena man made his Ulster debut against the Toyota Cheetahs in September 2017, and has already shown some excellent form this year when collecting the Player of the Match award in the season opener versus Benetton.

Rea will start at blindside flanker, with Jordi Murphy being retained at openside and Nick Timoney coming in to start at number eight. Adam McBurney will make his first start this season at hooker and is joined in the front row by Eric O’Sullivan – who scored his first Ulster try last week – and Marty Moore. Alan O’Connor retains his starting berth in the second row, and will be partnered with Kieran Treadwell, who is also making his first start this season.

Billy Burns will make his return from injury to captain the side at fly-half, alongside John Cooney – who has been released from the Ireland Six Nations squad – at scrum-half.

Burns is one of four changes to the back line, with Stuart McCloskey also being released from international duties to start alongside Stewart Moore in midfield. Michael Lowry comes in to start at full-back, and he will be joined on the wings by Louis Ludik and the returning Craig Gilroy.

Luke Marshall is set to make his return from injury to make his first appearance this season as he is included among the replacements. Alby Mathewson and Academy back three prospect Ethan McIlroy will cover the backline along with Marshall. John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Ross Kane, Sam Carter, and Sean Reidy provide the forward options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Cardiff Blues, Guinness PRO14 Round 4, Monday 2 November 2020, at Rodney Parade (kick-off 6pm, live on Premier Sports):  

Issued by Ulster Rugby

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