Munster will host Leinster this afternoon in the St.Stephen’s Day clash at Thomond Park, with both teams lying in second place in their respective Pro14 conferences.
The two Irish provinces have played a total of 94 times, with Leinster holding the edge with 47 wins to Munster’s 42 and 5 draws. Leinster also have the better of recent encounters, winning 4 of the last five clashes.
The game will see some exciting new talent line out alongside several internationals and British & Irish Lions.
In the backline, the electric Jordan Larmour will start at fullback for Leinster, with James Lowe and Barry Daly completing the back three. Munster have opted for Andrew Conway at Fullback, with Irish internationals Sweetnam and Earls on either wing.
21-year-old Sammy Arnold will line out at 13 for Munster opposite 23-year-old Leinster man Rory O’Loughlin, who is being afforded some game time in his favoured position in the absence of Garry Ringrose. The two relative newcomers will have the more experienced duo of Scannell & Henshaw playing on their inside.
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) December 23, 2017
The number 10 tussle between Keatley & Ross Byrne will have implications beyond tonight’s game. Despite an improved start to the season from Keatley, doubts remain over his kicking, game management and overall ability at international level. With Sexton suffering another concussion and Jackson currently standing trial, Joe Schmidt will be looking on intently as the two outhalves look to stake a claim for a place in the Irish Six Nations squad.
Munster look to have an edge in the pack, with a backrow consisting of two Lions in Stander and O’Mahony alongside Tommy O’Donnell. Leinster meanwhile have called on Jack McGrath to lead the squad, with James Ryan, Dan Leavey and Jack Conan all looking to continue their impressive starts to the season.
Team Named | Captain @peterom6 on ?
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) December 23, 2017
Despite several injuries, tonight’s game highlights the strength in depth of both provinces and the stellar work of their respective academies. With big money offers coming in for Ireland’s top players from abroad, the IRFU will be heartened to see the next generation of players coming through the ranks.
A sold-out Thomond Park should give Munster the advantage, but the Leinster young guns have a confidence and pomp that should see it remain a tight game that may well be decided by some backline magic.
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