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Friday 19 April 2019

Miracle man O'Mahony makes it back

Champions Cup, Munster v Exeter, Bt Sport2/Virgin1/C4 (KO 5.30)

Peter O'Mahony
Peter O'Mahony

It probably only hurts Peter O'Mahony when the Munster captain laughs.

The Ireland flanker has made an unexpected recovery from a bang to his rib cartilage.

The presumption is that it is one of those tricky ones where you can play through the pain without too much risk of further damage.

It is also a reflection of how critical O'Mahony's leadership is to what Munster do and, also, a recognition of the danger Exeter will bring to Limerick.

Other than that, Johann van Graan makes just one change from the record-breaking win over Gloucester at Kingsholm, Ireland tight-head prop John Ryan rotating in for Stephen Archer.

Make no mistake, Exeter will look to make amends for what happened at the Aviva Stadium last season, not so much what happened in the draw at Sandy Park in October.

Rob Baxter's men let a 17-3 lead evaporate before their eyes in a defeat to the eventual champions Leinster that still lingers.

Even more significant was the sixth round loss to Glasgow Warriors last January which ruined their campaign. "Undoubtedly, if we were to win and get through to the quarter-finals, it would probably rank as our best moment in the competition so far," said their boss Rob Baxter.

"We know we have to force that four-point separation of either a 4-0 or 5-1 victory."

The Chiefs have to come with an attacking mindset and this is indicated in the choice of Joe Simmonds ahead of the veteran Ulsterman Gareth Steenson in what promises to be a New Year's cracker.

Munster: M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, K Earls; J Carbery, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan, J Kleyn, T Beirne, P O'Mahony (capt), T O'Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: R Marshall, J Loughman, S Archer, B Holland, A Botha; A Mathewson, T Bleyendaal, D Goggin.

Exeter: J Nowell; S Cordero, H Slade, O Devoto, T O'Flaherty; J Simmonds, N White; A Hepburn, J Yeandle (capt), H Williams, D Dennis, J Hill, S Skinner, D Armand, M Kvesic. Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie, B Moon, G Holmes, M Lees, S Lonsdale; J Maunder, G Steenson, I Whitten.

Verdict: Munster

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