Mun­ster aim to put brakes on Chee­tahs

Eras­mus mixes youth and ex­pe­ri­ence against at­tack-minded South Africans

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY - JOHNNY WAT­TER­SON

Con­fer­ence A Mun­ster v Chee­tahs Thomond Park, 5.15pm TG4

The neu­trals can only hope Chee­tahs will im­prove from last week’s 42 point sack­ing by Ul­ster, although their risk re­ward style of play is cer­tain to catch the eye.

While the South African team led 14-8 in the first half, they be­gan to fall away, some­thing Mun­ster di­rec­tor of rugby Rassie Eras­mus will have noted about his old club.

He makes just one change to the side that beat Benet­ton in last week’s open­ing round with Ian Keat­ley com­ing in for Tyler Bleyen­daal at out­half.

Mun­ster again sprin­kle the pad­dock with ex­pe­ri­ence and Academy play­ers with loose­head Liam O’Con­nor and blind­side Sean O’Con­nor re­tain­ing their places, cap­tain Billy Hol­land at hand to keep a weather eye.

In an in­di­ca­tion of how Eras­mus aims to play, some of Mun­ster’s re­turn­ing in­ter­na­tional play­ers are on the bench. Niall Scan­nell, Dave Kil­coyne, John Ryan, Rory Scan­nell and Si­mon Zebo will all be sprung.

Cap­tain re­turns

Chee­tahs are strength­ened by the ar­rival of their cap­tain Fran­cois Ven­ter, who has re­turned from the Springbok camp. He starts in his fa­mil­iar out­side cen­tre with Wil­liam Small-Smith mov­ing in­side and Ali Mgi­jima pro­vid­ing cover on the bench.

“The guys have had a good train­ing week. We’ve spent a fair amount of time pre­par­ing our­selves es­pe­cially in de­fence and break­down,” said coach Rory Dun­can.

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of wet con­di­tions, Chee­tahs have adapted their play. That may help but on the ev­i­dence of one game, maybe not enough.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BILLY STICKLAND/INPHO

Ian Keat­ley re­turns at out­half in the only change to the Mun­ster that beat Tre­viso last week.

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