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Holders Connacht will again test Munster today

BillyHollandMunsterRugbyAug2014_large

(Pictured, Munster captain Billy Holland, having a terrific season)
Munster v Connacht, today, Thomond Park, 5.15pm.:
THE last game of the Guinness PRO12 Championship proper for Munster and Connacht kicks off at Thomond Park this evening and although it is something of a ‘dead rubber’, the visitors will be keen to record back to back wins at the venue over their southern rivals in this competition.
Munster have already achieved their initial aim, a home semi-final for only the second time in the last seven seasons, but if they are to overhaul Leinster to become top seeds, they will need a win in this game and hope that their rivals trip up. Rassie’s men have won their last five Guinness PRO12 encounters, whilst their only defeat since round six was at home to Scarlets on 24 February.
Connacht have made the European Champions Cup Play-offs but their only win in the last five rounds ofthe Guinness PRO12 was at Edinburgh on 7 April.
Connacht have become just the third reigning PRO12 Champions to have failed to make the Semi-Finals in the year of their defence, the others being Ospreys in 2012 and Leinster in 2014. The Western province have won three of their last five fixtures with Munster, but did slip up 9-16 in Galway in round 12. Last season Connacht won at Thomond Park for the first time since 1986.For the record, the teams have played 29 in the league, Munster won 24, Connacht won 4 and 1 game drawn.
Munster: Andrew Conway, Alex Wootton, Jaco Taute, Dan Goggin, Keith Earls; Ian Keatley, Angus Lloyd; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Darren O’Shea, Billy Holland – capt.; Jean Deysel, Conor Oliver, Jack O’Donoghue.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Francis Saili.Referee:
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Danie Poolman, Tom Farrell, Craig Ronaldson, Cian Kelleher; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey; Quinn Roux, Andrew Browne; Eoin McKeon, James Connolly, John Muldoon (captain).
Replacements:
16 Dave Heffernan (83)
17 JP Cooney (49)
18 Finlay Bealham (81)
19 Sean O’Brien (38)
20 Naulia Dawai (11)
21 John Cooney (38)
22 Marnitz Boshoff (3)
23 Darragh Leader (52)
Referee, David Wilkinson (IRFU, 51st competition game)
Assistant Referees: TBC
Citing Commissioner: Wayne Sheridan (IRFU)
TMO: TBC

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