By Tadhg Peavoy
Munster v Newport Gwent Dragons, Musgrave Park, Saturday, 1845
Munster’s 29-19 defeat to Benetton Treviso last week came as a nasty shock following handy wins over Zebre and Edinburgh.
It was as clear a call as any that Munster’s work to climb back to the top of the ladder in this league has plenty of work yet to be completed, and could serve as a good incentive for Rob Penney’s men to push on for better performances away from home.
For now though, they return to Ireland and Musgrave Park and Penney has selected a 15 that should be very much the top dog in this encounter.
Donncha O’Callaghan and Peter O’Mahony will provide the leadership in the pack for a backline that has a sprinkling of attacking brilliance.
Andrew Conway (No 14), Keith Earls (No 13) and Simon Zebo (No 11) will do damage to Dragons, which the Welsh team will do well to counteract for 80 minutes.
Munster to win by 12 points.
Connacht v Ospreys, the Sportsground, Saturday, 1700
Connacht take on undefeated Ospreys at the Sportgrounds and if victory comes, it will come against expectation.
The free-flowing rugby Ospreys are known for is tough to counteract and the best way to stem the tide to is to dominate up front and starve the Welsh side of possession. That deprives the likes of Richard Fussell, Ashley Beck and Dan Biggar the ball they need to do damage.
To this end the back-row battle will be crucial, with Andrew Browne named at number 6 and Jake Heenan moving to the openside and John Muldoon at eight, Connacht have a trio that will match Justin King, Jason Tipuric and Morgan Allen in many facets.
However, you would expect Tipuric to give Ospreys a crucial edge to see them home.
Ospreys to win by eight.
Live web-only coverage of Munster v Dragons from 18:40 on Saturday 28 September on RTÉ.ie (Ireland only). Full deferred coverage from 19:25 on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only)