Pro 12 Final : Munster v Scarlets

There’s been a feeling ever since Anthony Foley passed away earlier in the season that Munster would accomplish something special this year. To be honest I think they’ve already done it. They’ve grown into a team, realised their own identity. If they win tomorrow, they’re back on top and creating their own legacy separate to the one forged by the likes of O’Gara and O’Connell’s teams of the past. Today will hopefully be the culmination of the ‘coming of age’ of a new Munster team.

Scarlets will like their chances in today’s final though, make no mistake. They have already knocked Munster off in Thomond Park this year and will draw massive confidence from dispatching Leinster at the semi final stage in Dublin. It was a gutsy and clinical defensive performance that saw them past Leinster while being down to 14 men for the entire second half. They’ll enter the final as underdogs but I’m quite confident they don’t believe themselves to be.

I wasn’t impressed watching Munster in the semi final to be honest. I saw lots of endeavour, but for most of the game I thought they just weren’t clinical enough. They’ll have to raise their game today, and I expect them to. I’m looking for a massive game from Tyler Bleyendaal. He’s been good all season but this is crunch time, he has to deliver on the biggest day.

The bookies say Munster are favourites, but this is a close one! The Welsh media are confident their side can deliver in their first Pro 12 final appearance. I think its going to take a massive effort from the Munster men to get over the line and I’d look to red numbers 6 – 9 to pave the way.

Key Battles

Donnacha Ryan v Tadhg Beirne – Fascinating clash. Ryan, who’ll play like there’s no tomorrow, in what is his last game for Munster. Beirne, the young Leinster man making a name for himself in Wales. It will be a massive statement if he out-performs Irish second rows Ryan and Holland.

Francis Saili v Jonathan Davies –  Despite being man of the match in the semi final the Munster 13 made some horrific defensive reads. I’m more than a little nervous as he comes up against Davies, who’ll be a test starter for the Lions.

The Bench – This is where I feel Munster hold a distinct advantage. Taute is primed to enter if the midfield is struggling and the power and energy Deysel and O’Donoghue will bring will be key in the latter stages of the game. 

Munster

15 Simon Zebo

14 Andrew Conway

13 Frances Saili

12 Rory Scannell

11 Keith Earls

10 Tyler Bleyendaal

9 Conor Murray

8 CJ Stander

7 Tommy O’Donnell

6 Peter O’Mahoney (c)

5 Billy Holland

4 Donnacha Ryan

3 John Ryan

2 Niall Scannell

1 Dave Kilcoyne

Reps: Rhys Marshall, Brian Scott, Stephen Archer, Jean Deysel, Jack O’Donoghue, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, Jaco Taute

Scarlets

15 Johnny McNicholl

14 Liam Williams

13 Jonathan Davies

12 Scott Williams

11 Steff Evans

10 Rhys Patchell

9 Gareth Davies

8 John Barclay [c]

7 James Davies

6 Aaron Shingler

5 Tadhg Beirne

4 Lewis Rawlins

3 Samson Lee

2 Ryan Elias

1 Rob Evans

Reps: Emyr Phillips, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, David Bulbring, Will Boyde, Jonathan Evans, Hadleigh Parkes, DTH van der Merwe

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