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Frankie Sheahan's verdict: all signs point to Munster victory

Former Thomond Park favourite insists this is one game that the Reds can’t afford to lose to their old rivals.

Image: Inpho

CAN LEINSTER BEAT Munster for the sixth time in-a-row? It will be some record if they do.

I would like to examine a few key areas and lead you then to my conclusion.

Front Row: This is where Leinster have beaten Munster for the last five times. Up front, but in particular in the front row, Munster have been punished in their losses. I don’t expect Munster to win the scrumaging battle but I envisage a marked improvement today. W

ith Marcus Horan and John Hayes on the bench, their combined experience will be useful for Munster in the second half.

Form: I believe Munster’s form has been slightly better. If you look at last weekend, Munster played against a strong Cardiff side and won, despite missing four kicks. Leinster on the other hand struggled but won against a poor Dragons team with nothing to play for. Munster are also 12 points clear at the top of the table.

Motivation: It does not matter how much Leinster want to win, Munster have to win this one. I can see them hit an intensity that they have not done very often this year. Munster for this reason should win this battle.

Selection: Leinster have gone for their tried and trusted and it is an impressive team on paper. Munster have made some interesting changes. They spoke about bringing younger guys through after they got knocked out of the Heineken Cup. I don’t see much here apart from Conor Murray’s elevation and am disappointed not to see some more younger guys in the 22 including the likes of Ian Nagle, Scott Deasy and in particular Steven Archer who had a tremendous outing against the Dragons recently.

From a Munster point of view, I am surprised not to see Keith Earls at full back and Johne Murphy in the center where I believe they are both at their best.

With all this in mind, I believe that Munster could in fact not just win but win well. This would ultimately do Leinster a huge favour going in to next week. Finally,a special congratulations to my old pal Shane Horgan who will reach an awesome milestone in winning his 200th cap.

Prediction: Munster win

Munster: F Jones; D Howlett, J Murphy, L Mafi, K Earls; R O’Gara, C Murray; W du Preez, D Varley, T Buckley; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell capt; D Ryan, D Wallace, J Coughlan.

Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, J Hayes, M O’Driscoll, D Leamy, P Stringer, P Warwick, S Tuitupou.

Leinster: I Nacewa; S Horgan, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, I Boss; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross; L Cullen (capt), N Hines; K McLaughlin, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements: A Dundon, H van der Merwe, S Wright, D Toner, R Ruddock, E Reddan, I Madigan, F McFadden.

Visit Frankie’s blog at Front Row

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