herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Munster to clip Dragons' wings and keep control

Newport-Gwent Dragons v Munster, Rodney Parade, Sat 6.30, Live Setanta Sports 1

Ireland's Ronan O'Gara will have the opportunity to remind Declan Kidney he is far more than 'a closer' at this stage of his career.

The Irish record points scorer will be determined to show there is plenty of fight in the old dog for what could be an enduring battle with Jonathan Sexton for the Irish No10 jersey for the 2011 World Cup.

It was noticeable how O'Gara flew into the tackles in the last quarter against England, even counter-rucking and burying his head in the maul to make his point.

Tight-head Tony Buckley repaid the faith of Kidney by locking down a dangerous scrum five metres from his own line long enough for Jamie Heaslip to get off the back of it to relieve pressure.

Buckley's impact at the ruck and maul is second to none. He can move a mountain of bodies when he hits them right. It is time he managed to scrum solidly for the full 80 minutes.

Munster need to make their move towards guaranteeing a place in the play-offs, with Edinburgh lurking menacingly right behind them in fifth position. These are the sorts of matches that have made the champions' reputation.

Verdict: Munster

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