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Munster’s away form will again be tested in the Showgrounds

THEIR away form remains in question but Munster will be very keen to come away with a victory this Saturday in the Showgrounds, (7.35pm, live on TG4, eir sport 1 & Premier Sports 2). So far this season Johaan van Graan’s side has failed to win away against Glasgow, Cardiff, Leinster, Castres and Ulster while they snatched an important draw away to Exeter in their opening Heineken Cup pool game.
A win on Saturday would be a major boost as they prepare for the game in Gloucester the following week.
Connacht prop Denis Buckley is set to make his 150th appearance for his province in this game as the Roscommon man is named in their starting side.
Ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend, says his side face another huge challenge against Munster; “This block of three interpros is a tough series of fixtures and has a huge bearing on the overall context of the season.
“We were disappointed to lose narrowly to Leinster in Dublin but we showed great character to bounce back and beat a really tough Ulster side last weekend. This clash with Munster is a big game and we will have to put in a huge performance to get a result on Saturday. As always though we will focus on our game. That’s where our focus has been all week and that’s where it has been all season.”
“We are looking forward to another huge occasion in the Sportsground and we can see the people of the province have voted with their feet again with the game completely sold out since early in the week. They have been huge for us this season both home and away and we will be looking to feed off them again on Saturday evening.”
There are seven changes to the Munster side that defeated Leinster at Thomond Park last weekend. Peter O’Mahony captains the side as Chris Farrell returns from injury with Tommy O’Donnell, Alex Wootton, Alby Mathewson, Jeremy Loughman and Arno Botha also coming into the starting XV.
Billy Holland is named among the replacements and is set to make a landmark 200th Munster appearance. In doing so, Holland will become just the 10th Munster player to play 200 games for the province.
Andrew Conway moves to full-back for the clash with Keith Earls on the right flank and Wootton on the opposite wing.
Dan Goggin is joined by Farrell in the centres with Mathewson and Joey Carbery in the half-backs.
Loughman packs down in the front row with Niall Scannell and John Ryan as Jean Kleyn and last week’s Man of the Match Tadhg Beirne keep their places in the second row.
O’Mahony, O’Donnell and Botha complete the side.
Tickets for the interpro derby have completely sold out as Andy Friend’s side go into the fixture with six wins in their last seven games.
Connacht: Darragh Leader, Cian Kelleher, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan (Capt), Dominic Robertson Mc-Coy, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Eoghan Masterson.
Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Cillian Gallagher, Angus Lloyd, David Horwitz, Colm DeBuitlear.
Munster: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Alex Wootton; Joey Carbery, Alby Mathewson; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Tommy O’Donnell, Arno Botha.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Sammy Arnold

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