Munster Rugby 45 - 21 Cardiff Blues
HT 17-14
Fri 05 April 19:35 Irish Independent Park Att: 8,008 Ref: Marius Mitrea Guinness PRO14

Preview: Munster v Cardiff Blues

Tue 2 Apr 2019 10:39 Preview: Munster v Cardiff Blues

With three games remaining in the regular Guinness PRO14 season, Cardiff Blues travel to Cork's Irish Independent Park to take on Heineken Champions Cup semi-finalists, Munster.

The race for a top three finish is set to go down to the wire, and John Mulvihill's side will be desperate to pick-up points on the road against the Irish province.

Wales' Capital Region have only made three changes for the encounter, with Shane Lewis-Hughes, Seb Davies and Dillon Lewis introduced in the pack, with the backline remaining unchanged.

The Blues will hope their wings continue their blistering run of form, as Owen Lane and Aled Summerhill have racked up a combined 15 tries in the last seven games.

Summerhill will hit a half century of appearances for the region, while skipper Kristian Dacey will join the elite club of players who have appeared 150 times for Cardiff Blues.

Munster, fresh from their Heineken Champions Cup quarter final win over Edinburgh, have named a strong side for the Cork clash.Three British and Irish Lions are included in the starting XV in the form of Conor Murray, Keith Earls and captain Peter O'Mahony.

A total of six changes is made from BT Murrayfield, with fire-power on the bench in the form of Tadhg Beirne and CJ Stander.

Cardiff Blues were the last side to pick up a victory at Irish Independent Park as they sealed a slender win in the opening round of PRO14 action in 2016, with Tom James crossing for a brace and Dan Fish touching down for a stunning team score.

Both sides head into the encounter on fine form, with the visitors on a streak of three consecutive wins, while the hosts have nine victories in their last 10 fixtures.

Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Kevin O’Byrne, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (capt), Chris Cloete, Arno Botha

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Tadhg Beirne, CJ Stander, Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Sammy Arnold

Cardiff Blues: Gareth Anscombe; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey (capt), Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Rory Thornton, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Olly Robinson, Josh Turnbull

Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Brad Thyer, Keiron Assiratti, George Earle, James Botham, Lloyd Williams, Garyn Smith, Matthew Morgan

Last Time Out: Cardiff Blues 37 Munster 13

It was the Willis Halaholo show in the Welsh capital as a fully-loaded Munster visited the Cardiff Arms Park in September.

The hosts were searching for their first win of the campaign, and got off to a flyer as Nick Williams crashed his way to the whitewash.

Despite Munster replying through an Andrew Conway double, centre Halaholo caused havoc in midfield to weave his way past one defender after another and send scrum half Tomos Williams through for a score.

Halaholo was rewarded with a try of his own in the early stages of the second half, as he found space to out-pace Jaco Taute on the outside and touch down in the corner.

Tomos Williams' second of the evening sealed an impressive bonus point to kick-start the Blues' campaign.

Head to Head: Keith Earls v Owen Lane

It's a battle of the wings on the artificial turf in Cork, and it will be a fascinating head-to-head between 21-year-old Owen Lane and experienced international, Keith Earls.

10 years separate the duo, and when Earls was 21-years-old he was picked for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa. He has continued to be a mainstay in the Irish backline, winning 77 caps and crossing for an impressive 30 tries on the international stage.

Earles has been in fine form this season, touching down on eight occasions for his province - including a brace in last week's Champions Cup win over Edinburgh - and scoring three tries in this year's Guinness Six Nations campaign.

Meanwhile, Lane has been on fire in recent weeks, crossing for an impressive eight tries in seven outings. The former Wales under-20 international is part of a scintillating backline who have terrorised defences in recent weeks.

The youngster has a deadly combination of pace and power, and also showed his playmaking abilities to set-up team-mate Josh Turnbull for a score in the bonus point win over Scarlets.