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Munster See Off Connacht to Set Up Quarter-Final Clash with Benetton

Munster battled past a resilient Connacht side on Saturday night

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(Photo By Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster will face Benetton Treviso in the Pro 14 quarter-finals after defeating rivals Connacht 27-14 at Thomond Park on Saturday.

Tries from Tadhg Beirne, Mike Haley and JJ Hanrahan pushed Munster past the Western side, however, Glasgow’s win over Edinburgh ensured Munster finished in second place in Conference A.

Munster were forced into a change before the match even began as Conor Murray was injured in the warm-up, with Neil Cronin taking his place in the starting XV.

The visitors had the chance to get the first score of the game when they received a penalty, but debutant Conor Dean missed his kick.

Seven minutes on and Tyler Bleyendaal got Munster on the scoreboard thanks to a perfect penalty.

Connacht came close to scoring the game’s opening try moment later only for Dan Goggin to make a recovery tackle to deny them.

Finlay Bealham did get them on the board when he powered over in the 24 minute. Dean made no mistake with the kick to make it 7-3.

Stephen Fitzgerald denied Andrew Conway an intercept try, after the restart but Beirne gave the hosts the lead once more when he out-fought Niyi Adeolokun to touch down. Bleyendaal made it 10-7 with the conversion on the half-hour mark.

Munster scored again before half-time, with Conway releasing captain Peter O’Mahony who in turn sent Haley on his way to score his sides second try. Bleyendaal was perfect from the tee again to leave it at 17-7 going into half-time.

The second-half started much like the end of the first with Munster on the attack but a 56th minute Bleyendaal penalty was all they had to show for their dominance.

Connacht took full advantage of a Jeremy Loughman yellow-card when Eoin McKeon got in for a five-pointer with 10 minutes left on the clock. Dean converted and there were only six points in it.

However, four minutes later and Hanrahan broke through a gap in the defence to touch down and end any hopes of a Connacht comeback. He converted his own try to make it 27-14 and that’s how it ended.

Speaking after the game Munster out-half Bleyendaal was delighted to end the regular season on a win ahead of the play-offs.

“We made it tough at the end, but it was a really good performance and it was nice to build some momentum into the play-offs,” he said.

Munster now face Benetton in the quarter-finals next Saturday while Connacht face Ulster with all teams vying for the two semi-final spots.

Pro14

Guinness PRO14 make exciting statement regarding SA Rugby

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Getty Images - Sportsfile - Brendan Macken

The Guinness PRO14 this morning made the below statement regarding SA Rugby and the PRO14 which contains exciting news for the competition and South African Rugby.

Statement begins.

“On August 25, PRO14 Rugby acknowledged that under current international travel restrictions it is not possible for South African teams to fulfil Guinness PRO14 fixtures until 2021.

PRO14 Rugby welcomes the news that the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) has been able to arrange a domestic schedule for its professional teams and that this is the first step in the return of their teams to on-field action.

SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the Guinness PRO14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are on-going about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.

Additionally, both PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more South African franchises from 2021.”

Statement ends.

The board of SA Super Rugby (Pty) Ltd – which trades as the Southern Kings placed the insolvent company into voluntary liquidation to secure the longer-term financial future of rugby in Eastern Province.

The shareholders – the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) and SA Rugby – took the decision in the face of an accumulated deficit of R55m, and with zero income in prospect for the remainder of 2020.

The loss of the Southern Kings will not be seen as a huge loss to the competition with them rarely upsetting the Betway odds.

Active discussions are ongoing with other South African teams to fill the void left by the Kings and also the potential of adding further franchises to expand the league.

PRO14 confirmed in August that the South African based sides will not play in the PRO14 for the rest of this calendar year, missing the start of the 2020-21 season, but PRO14 are still hopeful they will be able to compete in the 2020/21 season.

The remaining 12 teams from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy will begin the new campaign in early October with the first round of 11 fixtures not involving the South African sides. It’s no surprise who the bookies favourites are for next season, and surely this will drive many fans to place bets on Rugby at Betway hoping for their side to come out on top.

As a result of COVID-19 and the impact it is has had and will have on rugby’s global competition structures, the PRO14 is the most likely home for more South African teams.

Over the last few months New Zealand Rugby has plans for their future club pathway did not include the Bulls, Lions, Stormers or Sharks.

An interesting few months certainly ly ahead.

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Pro14

Ringrose to captain Leinster v Ulster

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby in the Final of the Guinness PRO14 tomorrow in the Aviva Stadium has been named by Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm – live on eir Sport, TG4 & RTÉ Radio).

Cullen has made a number of changes from the team that accounted for Munster Rugby in the semi-final with Garry Ringrose named as captain of the senior side for the first time.

The back three is the same that started against Munster last week with Jordan Larmour selected at full back having come through the graduated return to play protocols successfully this week and Hugo Keenan on the right wing and James Lowe on the left.

Robbie Henshaw is again selected at inside centre with captain Ringrose outside him in the number 13 jersey.

Ringrose made his Leinster debut in September 2015 on the wing against Cardiff Blues and tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 Final will be his 75th appearance in a Leinster jersey. In that time he has scored 25 tries and has 29 Ireland caps to his name.

The half back partnership sees Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne start at nine and 10.

In the pack there is no change in the front row with Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher and Andrew Porter again selected. In winning his 219th cap, Cian Healy joins Leo Cullen and Rob Kearney as the joint 4th most capped player in Leinster history.

James Ryan has recovered from injury to take his place in the second row alongside Devin Toner.

Finally in the back row, Guinness Player of the Match from last week Caelan Doris is again selected at blindside flanker with Josh van der Flier at openside and finally Jack Conan is selected in the number eight jersey.

Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):

15. Jordan Larmour (48)
14. Hugo Keenan (16)
13. Garry Ringrose (74) CAPTAIN
12. Robbie Henshaw (46)
11. James Lowe (45)
10. Ross Byrne (87)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (91)
1. Cian Healy (218)
2. Rónan Kelleher (13)
3.Andrew Porter (64)
4. Devin Toner (247)
5. James Ryan (37)
6. Caelan Doris (31)
7. Josh van der Flier (82)
8. Jack Conan (91)

16. James Tracy (109)
17. Ed Byrne (55)
18. Michael Bent (138)
19. Scott Fardy (60)
20. Will Connors (18)
21. Luke McGrath (125)
22. Johnny Sexton (165)
23. Rory O’Loughlin (69)

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

Press Release from Leinster Rugby

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Pro14

Ulster make big changes for Leinster Final

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Ulster Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has confirmed the match-day squad for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Final versus Leinster (Aviva Stadium, 7.35pm).

The Ulster men will be boosted by the return of club captain, Iain Henderson, who will be making his first appearance since the season resumption, and is one of four changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh in last week’s thrilling Semi-Final at BT Murrayfield.

Alan O’Connor will partner Henderson in the second row, while the front row of Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Tom O’Toole is retained. The back row sees one change, with Sean Reidy coming into the starting line-up at openside flanker. Matthew Rea takes the blindside flanker position and Marcell Coetzee packs down at number eight.

The back three sees two positional switches, with Jacob Stockdale moving to the left wing, while Rob Lyttle swaps over to the right. Joining them at full-back is Michael Lowry, returning to the starting XV. Stuart McCloskey – who, along with John Cooney, was named in the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team earlier this week – continues his midfield partnership with James Hume. All Black scrum-half, Alby Mathewson, will make his first start for Ulster alongside Billy Burns at fly-half.

McFarland has opted for a 6-2 split on the bench where John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy and Nick Timoney will offer the forward backup, and the backline cover is provided by John Cooney and Ian Madigan.

Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Final, Aviva Stadium, Saturday 12 September (7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, Alby Mathewson.

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements (16-23): John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Nick Timoney.

Press Release from Ulster Rugby

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