Munster aim to keep attacking Cheetahs in check

Ian Keatley returns at outhalf along with an experienced bench for the home side

 Ian Keatley steps in for Tyler Bleyendaal in the only change from the opening win against Benetton. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ian Keatley steps in for Tyler Bleyendaal in the only change from the opening win against Benetton. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Munster v Cheetahs, Thomond Park, Saturday, 5.15pm (TG4)

The neutrals can only hope Cheetahs will improve from last week’s 42 point sacking by Ulster, although their risk reward style of play is certain to catch the eye.

While the South African team led 14-8 in the first half, they began to fall away, something Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will have noted about his old club.

He makes just one change to the side that beat Benetton in last week’s opening round with Ian Keatley coming in for Tyler Bleyendaal at outhalf.

Munster again sprinkle the paddock with experience and Academy players with loosehead Liam O’Connor and blindside Sean O’Connor retaining their places, captain Billy Holland at hand to keep a weather eye.

In an indication of how Erasmus aims to play, some of Munster’s returning international players are on the bench. Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Rory Scannell and Simon Zebo will all be sprung.

Cheetahs are strengthened by the arrival of their captain Francois Venter, who has returned from the Springbok camp. He starts in his familiar outside centre with William Small-Smith moving inside and Ali Mgijima providing cover on the bench.

“The guys have had a good training week. We’ve spent a fair amount of time preparing ourselves especially in defence and breakdown,” said coach Rory Duncan.

In anticipation of wet conditions, Cheetahs have adapted their play. That may help but on the evidence of one game, maybe not enough.

MUNSTER: A Conway, D Sweetnam, C Farrell, J Taute, A Wootton; I Keatley, D Williams; L O’Connor, R Marshall, S Archer; J Kleyn, B Holland; S O’Connor, T O’Donnell, J O’Donoghue. Replacements: N Scannell, D Kilcoyne, J Ryan, F Wycherley, R Copeland, J Hart, R Scannell, S Zebo.

CHEETAHS: C Blommetjies; S Petersen, F Venter , W Small-Smith, M Mapimpi; R Petzer, S Venter; C Marais, J du Toit, J Coetzee, R Bernardo, R Hugo, P Schoeman, H Venter, N Jordaan. Replacements: T van Jaarsveld, O Nche, T Botha, A Koster, G Olivier, T Meyer, A Mgijima, R Benjamin.

Referee: B Whitehouse (WRU).

Verdict: Home win

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