Munster v Saracens

Head versus Heart

In what is their 5th consecutive European Cup semi final, the English champions will be at full strength and firing on all cylinders. They name an impressive starting XV, including the six players selected for Lions duty this summer. On paper, Saracens win. Munster are underdogs, but isn’t that how they like it? It’s been an emotional year, Axel’s death has lit a fire in them. Reigning champions, six Lions, tournament favourites be damned. The strength of a Munster team, in what is perhaps uniquely theirs, is that intangible ingredient, heart. It’s been evident so many times in the past that no matter how ‘up against it’ they seem to be, you can never write them off. Maybe, just maybe, going with the heart makes sense this time!

3 Key Battles

CJ Stander v Billy Vunipola – They could be room mates in June, but tomorrow the focus will be on nullifying the influence of the other.

Tyler Bleyendaal v Owen Farrell – Each shortlisted for European Player of the Year. The battle of the 10’s will be crucial, not least of all in the goal kicking stakes.

Peter O’Mahoney v Maro Itoje – Although Itoje starts at lock and O’Mahoney at blindside, they are the respective workhorses of their teams. Both will also have a massive impact on how the lineout will unfold.

If Munster prevail, one of this trio will have been Man of the Match.

Fingers Crossed

It seems Conor Murray has run out of time in his race to be fit. Suspicious though that Munster haven’t named a replacement scrum half. I wonder…!

____________________________________________________________________

Munster

15. Simon Zebo
14. Andrew Conway
13. Jaco Taute
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. Tyler Bleyendaal
9. Duncan Williams

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Tommy O’Donnell
8. CJ Stander

Replacements
16. Rhys Marshall
17. James Cronin
18. Stephen Archer
19. Dave O’Callaghan
20. Jean Deysel
21. Ian Keatley
22. Francis Saili
23. Darren Sweetnam

Saracens

15. Alex Goode
14. Chris Ashton
13. Marcelo Bosch
12. Brad Barritt (captain)
11. Sean Maitland
10. Owen Farrell
9. Richard Wigglesworth

1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Vincent Koch
4. Maro Itoje
5. George Kruis
6. Michael Rhodes
7. Jackson Wray
8. Billy Vunipola

Replacements
16. Schalk Brits
17. Titi Lamositele
18. Petrus Du Plessis
19. Jim Hamilton
20. Schalk Burger
21. Ben Spencer
22. Alex Lozowski
23. Chris Wyles

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