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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 22 November, 2017
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Deep breaths now, the end of the season is in sight.

Munster and Scarlets are with us on a desperately wet summer’s day in Dublin, both hoping to claim a rich reward for their excellent seasons.

Kick-off is coming right up at 18.15, so take your time to dry off, drink up or simply get the juices flowing for what’s sure to be an absorbing clash.

Before you get an urge to adjust your sets in about 45 minutes time, Munster will be wearing dark blue today, while the Scarlets are in their eponymous red.

A view of a Munster jersey in the dressing room Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Here are your teams for today’s final, both XVs unchanged from their semi-final wins.

Munster:

15. Simon Zebo
14. Andrew Conway
13. Francis Saili
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. Tyler Bleyendaal
9. Conor Murray

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Tommy O’Donnell
8. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Rhys Marshall
17. Brian Scott
18. Stephen Archer
19. Jean Deysel
20. Jack O’Donoghue
21. Duncan Williams
22. Ian Keatley
23. Jaco Taute

Scarlets:

15. Johnny McNicholl
14. Liam Williams
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Scott Williams
11. Steff Evans
10. Rhys Patchell
9. Gareth Davies

1. Rob Evans
2. Ryan Elias
3. Samson Lee
4. Lewis Rawlins
5. Tadhg Beirne
6. Aaron Shingler
7. James Davies
8. John Barclay (captain)

Replacements:

16. Emyr Phillips
17. Wyn Jones
18. Werner Kruger
19. David Bulbring
20. Will Boyde
21. Jonathan Evans
22. Hadleigh Parkes
23. DTH Van Der Merwe

Referee: Nigel Owens [WRU].

The warm-ups are done, the flag-bearers are on the field waiting to welcome the sides back out for kick-off.

Where’s your money going?

Personally, I think the wet weather has played this match right into Munster’s hands.

It may be a tense affair, but by full time I reckon Munster will have seven or eight points to spare.

This is our view for this evening’s contest.

The rain has eased off in Dublin 4, but the clouds overhead remain heavy,

KICK-OFF

Munster receive the starting kick and Murray unleashes an early box kick.

It’s not his best, but the chase is solid.

4Mins

Scott Williams shows sharp hands to get a pass away under a lot of pressure. Scarlets doing well to stretch the home side here in the early minutes.

But after the Scarlets are dorced back inside, Francis Saili does superbly well to force a penalty off a breakdown 15 metres inside the Munster half.

5Mins

Rory Scannell is gone off as a temporary replacement. Jaco Taute in alongside Saili. Hopefully it’s not too serious.

7Mins

And Nigel Owens arm goes up again once Munster get their scrum on. Owens then marches the penalty right up onto the 22 for a Scarlet standing over the ball.

PENALTY! Munster 3 Scarlets 0 (Bleyendaal ’6)

John Ryan playing a big role in both scrum and maul in the lead-up to that score.

Flag 11Mins

That’s a brilliant try. Saili’s clearance kick off the restart was poor. Scarlets’ maul was solid and an advantage came as CJ went off his feet in a central ruck.

Patchell used the free play brilliantly, chipping a delicate pass into the right-hand corner for Liam Williams to pounce on.

The conversion is wayward, but the promise is strong from the Welsh side.

12Mins

Tyler Bleyendaal chanelling Old Munster as he gets into the final third, the Kiwi stabs a kick in behind the line to within 10 metres of the try-line.

Scarlets though, do well to execute their exit strategy.

15Mins

Simon Zebo is the latest man to kick the ball away on the attack, the fullback’s effort is sliced and spins out just 10 metres from where he kicked.

Rassie sent his team with a clear tactical plan to use the boot when possible, but there are times when the better option may have been to attack with ball in hand.

18Mins

Rhys Patchell hooks a superb reverse kick to pin Zebo in his 22. The fullback responds with his own boot, but again the contact is less than clean.

18Mins

Now Niall Scannell pinged for not rolling away and Patchell has the chance to extend the lead from the 10 metre line.

PENALTY! Munster 3 Scarlets 8 (Patchell ’18)

22Mins

That. Is. A. Stupendous try!

A fortunate bounce invites Zebo to attack, but Scarlets manage to turn him over on their 22 metre line. From their they attack.

Munster shoot up, but the red hands are too quick and Jonathan Davies and Steff Evans raid up the left, passing between one another, Davies jinking past the last defender Zebo before allowing Evans finish the move off.

Munster 3 Scarlets 15

24Mins

Munster should be thanking their lucky stars they are still in this game.

They are shredded to pieces again on the left, Evans galloping to withing 10 metres before sending the ball inside to Gareth Davies.

Mercifully, the scrum-half can’t hold on.

Knock-on.

Reprieve.

Munster need to get their house in order before it falls down.

25Mins

More pressure. Scarlets win the right to feed the scrum and they can pile on the attack from a central set-piece.

Scott Williams can see a massive overlap on the left and winds up a big pass to take advantage… it swerves forward and out of Evans’ reach.

28Mins

TRY! Munster 3 Scarlets 22 (Gareth Davies ’27)

It looked forward, but a very short TMO review (and no stadium replay) awarded Scarlets another try!.

Munster are utterly shell-shocked down there.

Scott Williams found a weak tackle in the middle of the park and flung a pass off his right to his scrum-half who romped home.

Flag 32Mins

The Dublin kid comes home to land another body blow, if not end, Munster’s hope here.

The blue jerseys look completely out on their feet, every collision is going the Welsh Region’s way.

Munster 3 Scarlets 29

35Mins

A hint, just a hint of light for Munster as Zebo changes the angle of his shoulders to chip wide for Saili. The centre rides a tackle, but as he gets his hands out to pass, the ball slips right out of his grasp and into touch.

It’s a long road back, but that’s the sort of invention Rassie’s men need.

37Mins

The gameplan is out the window. Munster are flinging passes around like Fiji Sevens. Conor Murray breaks through, but with little support he has to shovel the ball 10 yards back to find a Munster shirt. It’s John Ryan, and after he draws a tackler, he offloads to Zebo.

That game will suit Scarlets, but at this stage keeping it tight isn’t going to cut any mustard for Munster.

Ferocious breakdown work from Munster. They’re not going to let this game peter out early.

A penalty on the 22 is won and Tyler kicks for the corner.

38Mins

Scarlets came close to turning over there, but knocked on in the process. Simon Zebo twists trying to make something on the free play. He’s hurt, but limps up and into the backline for a Munster scrum.

Flag 39Mins

TRY! Munster 10 Scarlets 29 (Bleyendaal ’39)

A roar goes up around Lansdowne. Munster believe!

42Mins

That was an absolutely vital score. Tyler B dives over near the post after a big shove from the Munster pack.

HALF-TIME Munster 10 Scarlets 29

19-point deficit at the break… Stranger things have happened.

41Mins

The second half is away and running with Tyler kicking into the Scarlets 22.

It’s an extremely tall order, but if they can just get the gap to less than 14 with 20 minutes to play, then they stand a chance.

42Mins

Andrew Conway rises high and takes a big catch to set Munster up in Scarlets territory.

44Mins

A poor Zebo kick in behind the line is taken by Jon Davies and he launches a counter.

O’Mahony ships a penalty on the 22 and Patchell extends that lead to 22.

PENALTY! Munster 10 Scarlets 32 (Patchell ’44)

46Mins

After Keith Earls makes a half break, without much support, Jean Deysel is sent into the fray in place of Tommy O’Donnell.

Stephen Archer is on for John Ryan.

48Mins

There is no sign of a famous comeback here. Munster’s first-half inaccuracies are still dogging them and the Welsh attack can taste the history.

52Mins

The excellent Gareth Davies has been replaced by Jonathan Evans, the number 9 played a massive part in carving Munster up in the first-half – from both ends of the attacking moves.

54Mins

The decisions just won’t come for Munster. Holding on the call from Owens on Killer as he drove up the middle of the opposition half.

Wait though, an error. Patchell’s kick for touch is batted back into  play by Conway and he ofollows up with another fine aerial catch.

Munster fling wide, Taute and Bleyendaal getting passes away just in the nick of time. But there is no overlap to be found.

57Mins

A Munster  maul comes close to the try-line, but the move ends with a TMO review on Peter O’Mahony’s clear-out.

Owens opts against a card for the arm-less hit, but does award a penalty to allow Scarlets out.

61Mins

The war is gone for Munster, but they continue to fight their battles and skirmishes.

This has been a poor day from a province who based a terrific season on a ferocious defence.

After being sliced open over and over again in the first half, the belief just bled out of them.

61Mins

Simon Zebo’s done for the day. The Corkman has been replaced by Ian Keatley.

69Mins

Scarlets certainly don’t look like a team on the verge of winning their first trophy in over a decade. Their hands have a tight grip on the reins and they have locked this game down so that Munster don’t have a sniff….

Flag 70Mins

TRY! Munster 10 Scarlets 39 (DTH van der Merwe ’70)

Forget seeing the game out, DTH was determined to finish with a flourish, the Canadian breaks down the left and unleashes a big hand-off on his way to the line.

Terrific stuff for anyone who isn’t a Munster fan.

75Mins

TRY! Munster 15 Scarlets 39 (Conway ’75)

77Mins

A fine end that will be quickly forgotten by Munster fans after a horrible day. Conway bursts on to Marshall’s pass and races home.

A minute later, Keith Earls catches an intercept!

TRY! Munster 22 Scarlets 39 (Earls ’77)

Flag

Order restored. Liam Williams picks up a loose ball, hands off Duncan Williams and takes it to the house.

TRY: Munster 22 Scarlets 46 (Williams ’80)

Scarlets are the Guinness Pro12 champions

Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days blares out from the speakers as the majority of Munster fans beat a path to the exit.

A terrific display from Scarlets bridges a 13-year wait for the title.

Having beaten Ospreys, gone to Leinster and won with 14 men and then tore the tournament’s best defence to shreds, let there be no doubt that these are the most worth champions.

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