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PREVIEW: Munster Make Seven Changes for Scarlets

Strong Scarlets team too.

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster and Scarlets have both made changes for their clash at Parc y Scarlets at 17 00 tomorrow.

Munster will be looking to make it eight wins on the bounce and have welcomed back a couple of key men to the starting line-up while the Welsh side have five internationals returning.

Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshell and John Ryan, who is back from Ireland duty, start in the front-row for the visitors.

Jean Kleyn comes back into the pack having missed last week’s game through illness and will partner captain Billy Holland in the second-row.

Making up the pack are Fineen Wycherley, Conor Oliver and Arno Botha, at six, seven and eight respectively.

The out-half pairing has been switched up once more by the Irish province with Alby Mathewson and Bill Johnston coming in at No 9 and 10.

Rory Scannell will become the youngest player to reach 100 caps for Munster, having turned 25 in December, when he lines out beside Dan Goggin in the centre.

The back-three is made up of Darren Sweetnam, Ronan O’Mahony on the wings and full-back Mike Haley, who is in fine form at the moment.

The men in red have some experienced players to call on from the bench if needed such as Stephen Archer, Tyler Bleyendaal and Jaco Taute.

Speaking ahead of the game head coach Johann Van Graan has talked about the happiness in the club with their current form but sees room for improvement.

“We’re happy, we’ve won our last seven games in a row, and we’ve won five out of our last seven away. So, we’re pretty happy with our current form, but we’ve a lot to improve on from last weekend,” he said.

On the other side, the Scarlets have been able to recall Leigh Halfpeeny, Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Rhys Patchell and Steff Evans from Wales duty.

Jones and Elias are joined by Werner Kruger in the front three with Josh Helps and Lewis Rawlins slotting in behind.

While Josh Macleod, Dan Davis and Uzair Cassiem make up the back-row.

Kieran Hardy and Dan Jones are at scrum-half and fly-half respectively, with Paul Asquith and captain Kieron Fonotia outside them in the centre.

The ever-impressive Johnny McNicholl and Ioan Nicholas are on the wings with Halfpenny at full-back to finish up the XV.

Patchell and Evans are among the subs as the team will hope to continue their incredible home form which has seen them lose only one match since September 2016 in front of their fans.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivoc spoken about his delight at his teams win against the Cheetahs last weekend but is expecting a different challenge against the current Conference A leaders.

“We all know that Munster are going to be a very different proposition. They will bring a lot aggression and line-speed in defence, which poses a different challenge. We need to be on our game and are expecting more of an arm wrestle,” he said.

Munster are one point ahead of Glasgow at the summit of Conference A and will need a special performance in Wales as the Scarlets will be looking to close the five-point gap between them in fifth and Benetton in second in Conference B.

A win for either could be vital come the end of the regular season.

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Pro14

3 Big Injury Returns for Leinster.

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Leinster Rugby have named their team to take on Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14 tomorrow evening in BT Murrayfield (Kick Off: 7.35pm – live on eir Sport).

There is a welcome return to competitive action for a number of players that have been out with injury for the last few months as Leinster look to get back up and running in the Guinness PRO14 after a few weeks off.

Ciarán Frawley comes in at full back for his first start in the number 15 jersey, with Fergus McFadden on the right wing and Barry Daly on the left. Daly has scored two tries in five appearances since his return in January from a knee injury.

In the centre Joe Tomane makes his first start since injuring his hamstring in November against the Southern Kings. The 17 times capped Australian is joined in the centre by Noel Reid.

Luke McGrath is back from a knee injury to take his place at scrumhalf with Ross Byrne outside him at number ten.

In the pack the front row sees Ed Byrne, Seán Cronin and Michael Bent selected with Josh Murphy and Mick Kearney in the second row.

Captain Rhys Ruddock is joined in the back row by Dan Leavy who has recovered from a calf injury and by Max Deegan to complete the Leinster XV.

On the bench Nick McCarthy is the final player to make a welcome return from injury with the 23 year old selected for the first time since November.

Edinburgh have also announced their team with some big names returning to action.

Squad announcement from Leinster Rugby

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Pro14

3 Welsh Grand Slammers sign new contracts.

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Big news coming out of Wales.

“Scarlets are delighted to announce that three of Wales’ Grand Slam heroes have signed new contracts.”

Jonathan Davies, Ken Owens and Rob Evans have agreed new deals to extend their stay with their home region.

The international trio have come through the academy system at the Scarlets and were key members of the side that lifted the Guinness PRO12 trophy in 2017.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said:

“I am delighted that Rob, Ken and Jon have re-signed for the Scarlets.”

“They have been a big part of our success in recent years and I know that our incoming coach Brad (Mooar) was very keen to secure their services moving forward.

“It is great news for the Scarlets.”

Davies has played 154 matches for the Scarlets since making his debut in August 2006.

He has gone on to become one of the leading centres in world rugby and was named the British and Irish Lions player of the series in 2017.

“I could not be happier to be staying with the Scarlets,” he said.

“I am excited about the end of the season and having spoken to our new coach Brad, excited about what is to come.

“It is something I want to be part of.

“You want to be playing in the big competitions and competing for trophies and we have been doing that at the Scarlets.

“I am delighted to have signed a new contract.”

Owens was a Lions Test player in 2017 and won his 64th Wales cap against Ireland last weekend.

The talismanic hooker has made 238 appearances for the Scarlets since making his debut against Northampton Saints in 2016.

Owens has captained the Scarlets since 2014.

He said: “I am delighted to have signed an extension to my contract.

“I am looking forward to a big end of season and building on the success we have achieved in recent years.”

Evans is another who has been at the heart of the Scarlets’ success.

The Pembrokshire product has made 118 appearances since making his debut in January 2013 and was named in the Guinness PRO14’s dream team last season.

“I love playing here, you are playing with your mates and there’s a great spirit in the squad,” said Evans.

“I have been proud to be part of the success we have achieved over the last few years.

“I want to keep playing for Wales and there is no other side in Wales I would want to play for.

“This is an exciting time to be involved with the Scarlets. I am looking forward to pulling on a Scarlets jersey again and helping us get into the play-offs for another season.”

Scarlets general manager of rugby Jon Daniels added: “We are delighted to have key players like Jon, Ken and Rob sign new deals.

“All three are from West Wales, are proud of their roots and have played a huge part in our success in recent seasons.

“As Scarlets we are equally proud to see them achieve what they have on the international stage and for all three to sign new contracts is an indication of our ambition over the coming years.”

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WATCH: Munster Down to Second After Scarlets Loss | Highlights & Report

Munster came out second best in a low scoring game and are now second best in the table

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Munster fell to first defeat in 2019 with 10-6 loss to the Scarlets at a rain swept Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

Johann van Graan’s men have now dropped to second in Conference A as their result coupled with Glasgow Warriors 42-10 win over Zebre has given the Scottish side a three-point lead at the summit.

The reds started well and were rewarded four minutes in when Bill Johnston slotted over a penalty following a collapsed scrum.

However, less than 10 minutes later and the Scarlets scored the games only try, with Leigh Halfpenny having a surging run, before Jonny McNicholl sent a pass to fellow wing Ioan Nicholas went over.

Halfpenny sent over the extras and it was 7-3 after 12 minutes.

The rest of the half was spent in the Scarlets half as they defended resiliently as they only had 20 percent possession in the entire half.

Munster couldn’t find any reward until the dying seconds of the half when Uzair Cassiem was caught offside and Johnston sent over his second penalty of the night. That was the final score of the half, and it was 7-6 to the Scarlets at the interval.

The second-half saw only one score which came after 50 minutes when Halfpenny sent a penalty through the posts to extend the hosts lead.

Munster thought they were over for a try of their own when Jean Kleyn crossed the whitewash only for the TMO to rule it out due to a Rhys Marshell obstruction in the lead-up.

The visitors rallied for a try to secure victory of their own, but the Scarlets defence held out to end Munster’s eight-game unbeaten streak and continue their own incredible home record of only one defeat in Wales since September 2016.

Munster will now have to wait until the 23rd of March to try and regain their status at the top of the conference when they face basement side Zebre.

On the other side, the win leaves the Scarlets in third position in Conference B for now and they will look to build on this win when they face the Cardiff Blues a day before Munster host Zebre.

Match Highlights

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