The Province’s A side put their British and Irish Cup title on the line against Cornish Pirates in an intriguing quarter-final at picturesque Penzance (3pm).
Simon Zebo, Peter O’Mahony, Dave Kilcoyne and Conor Murray are amongst those in Heineken Cup action against Harlequins tomorrow who cut their teeth in the competition and Ian Costello’s current squad has plenty of European experience to backbone their challenge, with Dave O’Callaghan, Niall Ronan and Duncan Williams named in an powerful starting 15.
Costello admitted: “We have a decent team out this weekend. We’re very conscious of the strength of this Cornish Pirates team, we’re really aware of that. We have a long trip to get to this match, something like 11 hours, but we’re determined that we’re ready to defend the trophy.”
Cornish Pirates coach Ian Davies hopes to end a good week for the club with a British and Irish Cup victory on their home turf tomorrow, having received approval for a new stadium on Thursday.
Davies explained: “We’ve known this is going to be a big one for us for a good number of weeks now. Since we lost to Leeds away (in the Championship), our focus has always been on the British and Irish Cup.
“I’ve always said there are two trophies to win — one is the Championship and the other is the British and Irish Cup. I can’t understand why some teams belittle the cup. We are focused on what we are doing on the field. It is always nice to finish a season in a final. We have done that in three of the last four — a British and Irish Cup and two Championship finals. This is our focus — another final.”
Gavin Cattle, who led the Pirates to victory in 2010, is key man for the hosts along with half-back partner Aaron Penberthy. Other changes in the backs sees Wes Davies at full-back, with Grant Pointer moving to the wing.
The match is a repeat of the 2010 final the Pirates won 23-14. They repeated the feat in the group stages last season, winning 10-6 in Clonmel.
MUNSTER: S Scanlon; C Hircock, D Barnes, S Deasy, R O’Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, D Williams; J Cronin, S Henry (captain); J Ryan; D Foley, I Nagle; Dave O’Callaghan, N Ronan, CJ Stander. Replacements: D Casey, A Cotter, B Hayes, B O’Mahony, G Hurley, C Bohane, J Holland.
CORNISH PIRATES: W Davies, G Pointer, T Riley, J Fatialofa, M Evans, A Penberthy, G. Cattle (capt), L McGlone, P. Burgess, K Marriott, G Johnson, D Barry, P Joyce, R Elloway, P Andrew. Replacements: R Storer, W Tanner, J Tyas, A Cheesman, T Kessell, J Bentley, Sam Hill.
British & Irish Cup results: Bridgend 14 Ulster 40; Pontypridd 48 Jersey 17; Newcastle 72 Nottingham 17.