herald

Sunday 22 January 2017

Murray and Bleyendaal to drive Munster's momentum

Racing 92 v Munster, today (ko 3.45), live sky sports 1

Munster’s Conor Murray
Munster’s Conor Murray

Just as all the tears have cleared and clarity of purpose been renewed, and repeated, there comes a day of reckoning.

Munster will make their way back to Paris in order to maintain their momentum in what could yet be a momentous season.

The spirit of Anthony Foley will hang over their postponed round one fixture in Pool One of The Champions Cup.

There is trust that Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will hit the right notes, emotional and physical, ahead of this strange situation.

In simple selection terms, Erasmus has made ten changes to the side which eventually throttled Connacht in Galway last week. It wasn't a bad way to prepare for this one.

Following an away win at the French champions with one over the PRO12 equivalents would cement the sense of unity and self-belief.

The illness to second row Jean Kleyn could be telling, Billy Holland partnering Donnacha Ryan in the depowered engine room.

However, as long as the front-row can hold its' own, the back row of CJ Stander, Tommy O'Donnell and captain Peter O'Mahony can deliver the front-foot.

From there, half-backs Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal can drive them forward.

There is enough bench back-up strength in Keith Earls and Francis Saili to finish what the first 15 will start for Munster to take control of the Pool.

Racing 92: J Imhoff; J Rokocoko, C Laulala, A Tuitavake, T Thomas; B Dambielle, X Chauveau; K Vartanov, C Chat, L Ducalcon, G Grobler, F van der Merwe, C Masoe (capt), M Voisin, A Claassen.

Munster: S Zebo; A Conway, J Taute, R Scannell, R O'Mahony; T Bleyendaal, C Murray; J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan, D Ryan, B Holland, P O'Mahony (capt), T O'Donnell, CJ Stander.

Verdict: Munster

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