Munster have enough experience to have the edge over Edinburgh
Scottish side looking to break a run of five successive defeats to tonight’s hosts in all competitions
Ian Keatley: lines out at number 10 against Edinburgh at Musgrave Park tonight. Photograph: Inpho
Munster coach Rob Penney will have been reasonably satisfied with pre-season victories over Gloucester (28-17) and London Irish (27-13) but tonight’s game will be a much tougher prospect for a young team.
It’ll be interesting to see how 24-year-old Garryowen winger Ronan O’Mahony fares having scored a hat-trick against Irish, a match which cost the province the services of their former Springbok BJ Botha, who picked up a knee injury.
This allows Stephen Archer to start at tighthead while on the other side of the frontrow James Cronin, has a walk-on role in a competitive fixture for the first time, having been introduced as a replacement against Leinster and Zebre last season.
Ireland loosehead Dave Kilcoyne starts on the bench, so too flanker Tommy O’Donnell. Donncha O’Callaghan, Mike Sherry and captain James Coughlan provide a streetwise presence in a pack that faces an exacting examination.
Ian Keatley wears the number 10 jersey and he’ll be looking to take the opportunity to prove he can manage a game, from a kicking and running perspective. Ivan Dineen gets a chance at inside centre while alongside him Casey Laulala showed prominently the last day with his intelligent offloading and ability to create gaps.
Edinburgh are a closer incarnation of their full team despite missing scrumhalf and captain Greig Laidlaw. Sean Cox wears the armband and there is a settled look to the pack as they collectively start the third match in a row under former Ulster coach Alan Solomons.
The home side may be missing a host of front-line players but with the exception of O’Mahony, Cronin and the promising secondrow Dave Foley whose career has been blighted by injury, most of the team are well versed with playing at this level. Winning at home is non negotiable and Munster might be carried home on that edge.