Full-strength Munster set to edge out Leinster
Leo Cullen makes big changes for Limerick test
Sky Sports Action, 3.15pm Tuesday
The inter-pro derby between Munster and Leinster has become a festive feature for the last three years and visitors Leinster have followed their practice of last year by shuffling almost their entire team.
Munster are going at near-full strength and the outcome may be the same with the hosts fancied to make their strength tell.
Since the fixture was moved to this slot just after Christmas in 2014 selectors have had to juggle their squad as the players have just been through a month of internationals followed by the crucial and draining European back-to-back pool matches.
Last three years
Dec 26 2016 Munster 29 Leinster 17
Dec 27 2015 Munster 7 Leinster 24
Dec 26 2014 Munster 28 Leinster 13
Munster and Leinster had tougher Champions Cup schedules than most, coming up against Premiership heavyweights Leicester and Exeter, but both came through with two victories.
Leinster look to have come through the more demanding workout, which probably made it easier for coach Leo Cullen to make the decision to retain only three players from the line-up that overcame the Chiefs in Dublin.
Fly-half Jonny Sexton is out with a head injury and prop Cian Healy is suspended, but Cullen has also opted to go without Sean O'Brien, Garry Ringrose, Isa Nacewa, Rob Kearney, Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden, and Scott Fardy, while Tadhg Furlong is on the bench.
They still have a decent side out but Munster are pretty much at full strength with Tommy O’Donnell and Keith Earls back in the starting line-up.
The Munstermen have won all five of their Pro14 home games by a margin of more than 20 points but Leinster are a considerable step up on the opposition they have faced. The handicap is set at six or seven points and a home win by no more than 12 looks the best bet.
There’s a derby in Wales too where Pro14 champions Scarlets are eight-point favourites to see off Ospreys (Sky Sports Action & S4C, 5.35pm).
Ospreys’ league form has been pretty dire and although they claimed back-to-back wins over Northampton in the last two weeks, the Saints’ form before and since doesn’t reflect that well.
Cardiff are narrow favourites at the Dragons in the day’s other Pro14 clash (BBC1 Wales, 2pm).
Munster to win by one to 12 points
1pt 13-8 Sky Bet
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