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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.

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

International

Six legends to be inducted into World Rugby Hall of Fame

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World Rugby has revealed that six legends of the game in Osea Kolinisau (Fiji), Humphrey Kayange (Kenya), Huriana Manuel-Carpenter (New Zealand), Cheryl McAfee (Australia), Will Carling (England) and Jim Telfer (Scotland) will be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2021.

The World Rugby Hall of Fame presented by Tudor recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution to the game of rugby throughout their careers, demonstrating rugby’s character-building values of integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect on and off the field.

The six inductees excel within two themes selected by the Hall of Fame panel for 2021, rugby sevens and the Olympic Games in a big Olympic year, and the 150th anniversary of the first international match between Scotland and England in March 1871.

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Henderson back for Ulster, Aki out for Connacht

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad to face Connacht at Aviva Stadium on Saturday sees the return of Iain Henderson, Robert Baloucoune and Stuart McCloskey, with Eric O’Sullivan also coming in to start.

Iain Henderson will lead the Ulster men in his first game for the province this season, and will partner Alan O’Connor in the second row. O’Sullivan is the only change to the starting front row that defeated Emirates Lions last week, with Rob Herring and Tom O’Toole retaining their places at hooker and tighthead. The back row is unchanged as Matty Rea, Nick Timoney and David McCann are all named to start.

The back line sees two changes and two positional switches. Ethan McIlroy moves to full-back and Craig Gilroy shifts to the left wing, with Robert Baloucoune coming in to the right wing. Stuart McCloskey returns to pair up with James Hume in midfield. Nathan Doak and Billy Burns are the starting half-backs for the fourth consecutive game.

Brad Roberts, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell and Greg Jones provide the forward reinforcements from the bench, with David Shanahan, Mike Lowry and Ben Moxham named as the back line cover.

Ulster team to play Connacht Rugby, United Rugby Championship Round 5, Saturday 23 October at Aviva Stadium, 5.15pm kick-off, live on TG4 and Premier Sports:

(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Matty Rea, Nick Timoney, David McCann.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones, David Shanahan, Mike Lowry, Ben Moxham.

Kieran Marmion, Tom Daly and Eoghan Masterson have come into the Connacht starting XV for tomorrow’s hugely anticipated URC interpro with Ulster at the Aviva Stadium (k/o 5.15pm).
 
Their inclusions are the only changes from the side that put in an impressive performance against Munster last week, with out-half Jack Carty again captaining the side.
 
Daly partners Sammy Arnold in the centre, with Bundee Aki being monitored for a knee injury. He is expected to return to full training next week with the National Team. The back three is again made up of wingers Mack Hansen and John Porch, and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran.
 
The tight five is unchanged – with a front row of Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham, and locks Niall Murray and Ultan Dillane.
 
Eoghan Masterson is a direct replacement for injury absentee Cian Prendergast on the flank, with Conor Oliver and number 8 Paul Boyle alongside them.
 
The Connacht coaching team have gone back to a 4-3 split on the bench, with Conor Fitzgerald coming back into the matchday squad.
 
Head Coach Andy Friend says:
 
“We’ve been looking forward to tomorrow for a long time. The opportunity to return to the Aviva Stadium, but this time with thousands of Connacht supporters behind us, is something we’re all incredibly excited about. The importance of this fixture is not lost on us either. So far this season the performances have been good but the results haven’t matched up to that, so now we have to give absolutely everything to make sure we end this block of fixtures on a winning note.”
 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS ULSTER RUGBY
Saturday 23rd October, Aviva Stadium @ 17:15

Number/Name/Caps
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (194)
14. John Porch (43)
13. Sammy Arnold (20)
12. Tom Daly (52)
11. Mack Hansen (4)
10. Jack Carty (163) (C)
9. Kieran Marmion (190)
1. Matthew Burke (27)
2. Dave Heffernan (148)
3. Finlay Bealham (163)
4. Niall Murray (20)
5. Ultan Dillane (118)
6. Eoghan Masterson (112)
7. Conor Oliver (24)
8. Paul Boyle (61)

16. Shane Delahunt (104)
17. Jordan Duggan (16)
18. Jack Aungier (17)
19. Oisín Dowling (10)
20. Jarrad Butler (77)
21. Caolin Blade (134)
22. Conor Fitzgerald (38)
23. Diarmuid Kilgallen (2)

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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Australia name strong team for Japan clash

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Andrew Phan (Rugby Australia)

Queensland Red Hunter Paisami has been named to replace the injured Samu Kerevi at inside centre for the Wallabies Test against Japan in Oita on Saturday afternoon local time.

Kerevi failed to overcome the ankle injury he picked up in the side’s win over Argentina in the final eToro Rugby Championship match last month.

Paisami is one of four changes to the starting XV with Matt Philip returning to the second row, his Rebels teammate Rob Leota recalled at blindside flanker and Tom Wright named on the wing.

The front row remains unchanged for the fourth consecutive week with Brumbies teammates James Slipper and Folau Fainga’a joined by the damaging Taniela Tupou.  Slipper set to surpass former teammates Will Genia and Sekope Kepu and join George Smith when he runs on for his 111th Test for Australia.

Philip will reignite his combination with Western Force recruit Izack Rodda in the second row, with Leota joined by skipper Michael Hooper and no.8 Rob Valetini in the loose forwards.

In-form Nic White will again wear the number nine jersey, partnering the Japan-based Quade Cooper in the halves, while youngsters Paisami and Len Ikitau will combine in the midfield for just the third time in their early Test careers.

After a strong performance off the pine, Wright has forced his way back into a starting spot in the back three alongside Andrew Kellaway, who is having a breakout debut International season and Reece Hodge, who will line up at fullback for the third straight week.

Brumbies hooker Connal McInerney is set to become Wallaby no. 947, named as a potential debutant on the bench with his club captain Allan Alaalatoa returning to the matchday squad alongside Angus Bell as the reserve props.

Darcy Swain rotates to the pine as the second row replacement with the explosive Pete Samu set to cover the backrow in the Wallabies first Test against the Brave Blossoms since 2017.

Tate McDermott returns as the reserve halfback with his Reds teammates James O’Connor and Jordan Petaia the remaining backline cover, the latter having made his Wallabies debut in Oita during the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said: “While it’s disappointing for Samu not to be able to play in Japan, Hunter started the first five Tests this year prior to the birth of his daughter and is chomping at the bit for another opportunity.”

“Connal’s strong set piece and all-around game has earned him a chance to represent his country, which is a proud moment for him and his family.

“We’ve got a huge amount of respect for the Brave Blossoms who are now competitive with the best sides in the world.

“We’ll need to be at our best.”

The Test against Japan will be ad-free, live and on-demand with extended coverage on Stan Sport. 

Wallabies team to play Japan Oita Stadium, Japan on Saturday 23 October, 1:45pm JST/3:45pm AEDT
1. James Slipper (110 Tests)
2. Folau Fainga’a (21 Tests)
3. Taniela Tupou (35 Tests)
4. Izack Rodda (30 Tests)
5. Matt Philip (19 Tests)
6. Rob Leota (2 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (115 Tests)
8. Rob Valetini (14 Tests)
9. Nic White (43 Tests)
10. Quade Cooper (74 Tests)
11. Andrew Kellaway (9 Tests)
12. Hunter Paisami (11 Tests)
13. Len Ikitau (9 Tests)
14. Tom Wright (6 Tests)
15. Reece Hodge (53 Tests)
Replacements
16. Connal McInerney*
17. Angus Bell (12 Tests)
18. Allan Alaalatoa (50 Tests)
19. Darcy Swain (9 Tests)
20. Pete Samu (15 Tests)
21. Tate McDermott (11 Tests)
22. James O’Connor (57 Tests)
23. Jordan Petaia (14 Tests)

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