Pro 14: Leinster v Munster Preview



Irish heavyweights Munster and Leinster will renew their age-old rivalry this Boxing Day.


The Guinness Pro14 resumes this week after a brief hiatus, and the pick of Round 11 action sees Irish rugby’s two powerhouses lock horns in Limerick. Munster and Leinster are both enjoying spectacular runs of form, and will look to keep up their winning streaks up at Thomond Park on Tuesday; indeed, it looks set to be a Boxing Day cracker.

Munster v Leinster | Tuesday 26 December | Thomond Park | 17:15

To Win (80 Mins)
Munster 11/20 | Draw 18/1 | Leinster 31/20

Munster

So far so good for Johann van Graan. The former Springbok forwards coach has seamlessly assumed the mantle of Munster director of rugby from compatriot Rassie Erasmus, and looks set to continue the club’s upward curve which began under the steely eye of the latter. Van Graan would, however, do well not to allow his soldiers to gorge on too much Christmas turkey on the 25th, as their date with bitter-rivals Leinster, 24-hours later, will surely present their toughest challenge in quite some time.

The Red Army, like this week’s opponents, sit second in their Pro14 Conference. However, unlike the Leinstermen, who still have a very realistic shot at finishing in first, Munster will have to settle for second after the runaway Glasgow Warriors have all but secured top spot in Conference A; having won all 10 of their fixtures to date. Nevertheless, local bragging rights are very much up for grabs at Thomond Park this Tuesday, and Peter O'Mahony’s hosts will desperately want to avenge their 17-23 reverse of Round 6.

Speaking of O’Mahony, how fantastic was he in that win at Welford Road? The blindside flanker popped up everywhere, and his lineout expertise, in particular, proved to be the catalyst for his side’s famous win over the Leicester Tiger. The Lions captain has recently penned a new and improved three-year deal with the IRFU after initial reports claimed that he was France-bound, and there is every reason to believe that Munster’s skipper could well go on to secure a place alongside the club’s all-time greats.

Leinster

Leo Cullen’s side’s impressive double over the Exeter Chiefs in Europe underlined their tag as competition favourites, and they will certainly be riding a wave of confidence into Tuesday evening’s Irish epic. Leinster are unbeaten in five starts and have every reason to believe that they can repeat their performance of a few months back and beat Munster for a second time this Pro14 season.

If they are to claim a sixth-consecutive win, second-rowers Devin Toner and Scott Fardy need to boss the lineout, and shut down the likes of O’Mahony. If they allow the men in red to poach too much ball at the throw-in, Munster’s brilliant counter-attacking backs will do to them what they did to the Tigers and simply run them ragged. Leinster will need Johnny Sexton, who is expected to be back from injury, to take full control of proceedings and not let Munster assume command of the contest.

Verdict: Munster 11/20
Munster will be hurting from their loss to the same opponents in October and will be going balls to the wall to ensure there is no repeat performance. The crowd at Thomond Park are sure to lift their side, as they continue to build steam in anticipation of the season’s business end.


Written by Shaun Goosen for @Hollywoodbets.net

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