Munster aim to extend their winning run to nine in Dragons clash

Province have not lost at Thomond since defeat to Connacht in Rainbow Cup last May

Munster will be expected to extend their winning run to nine games at Thomond Park this evening (5.15pm) when they take on a Dragons side with just one victory all season in the URC.

In the process Munster, who have not lost at Thomond since going down to Connacht in the Rainbow Cup last May, will be looking for the perfect boost before they return to South Africa on Sunday for their re-fixed clashes against the Bulls and the Lions over the next two weekends.

But while forwards coach Graham Rowntree – fancied by many to take over as head coach when Johann van Graan departs for Bath in the summer – was earlier this week saying they needed five points from the fixture, he also acknowledged they can be tricky opponents.

“They are a very good lineout-contesting team,” he said. “They have a good breakdown and some good ball-carriers. They are well-coached. Well-coached. I’ve got a lot of time for their coaching team. They’ll be a handful. They were over there last year.

Escape

"They kick the ball well, they kick the ball a lot, one of the highest kicking rates in Europe and we have got to be wary of that and what that poses for us."

Three of Dragons's seven defeats this season have been by two points or less and their only win came in Ireland when they defeated Connacht 35-22 back in October, while champions Leinster were fortunate to escape from Rodney Parade with a 7-6 win.

Munster have made four changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh 34-20 two weeks ago.

Two are at the back with Shane Daly coming on to the right wing in place of Calvin Nash, who he replaced late in that game, while Jack Crowley gets the nod at outhalf with Ben Healy on the bench this time. Crowley will partner Craig Casey, who was released from the Ireland squad this week for this match, with Gavin Coombes also back on Munster duty at number eight.

Up front, John Ryan starts at tighthead instead of Stephen Archer, while Josh Wycherley makes his first start of the season at loosehead, with older brother Fineen in the secondrow.

Munster: M Haley; S Daly, C Farrell, D Goggin, S Zebo; J Crowley, C Casey; J Wycherley, D Barron, J Ryan; J Kleyn, F Wycherley; J O'Donoghue, C Cloete, G Coombes. Replacements: N Scannell, J Loughman, S Archer, A Kendellen, J Hodnett, N Cronin, B Healy, R Scannell.

Dragons: J Williams; W Talbot-Davies, J Dixon, A Owen, R Dyer; S Davies, R Williams; G Bateman, T Davies, C Coleman; J Davies, J Maksymiw; H Keddie, O Griffiths, A Wainwright. Replacements: E Shipp, A Seiuli, M Doge, H Taylor, B Fry, D Baker, L Jones, J Lewis.