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Heineken Cup Pool 6: Perpignan v Munster match preview

Last updated: 13th December 2013  

Sebastien Vahaamahina France lock training

Sebastien Vahaamahina: The giant Frenchman comes into Perpignan's starting line-up

 Donnacha Ryan Munster

Donnacha Ryan: Recovered from knee injury to start for Munster at Perpignan

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Munster will be aiming to keep top spot in Pool 6 when they travel to the south of France to take on Perpignan.

The two-time champions of Europe recorded a bonus-point 36-8 victory over the same opponents last time out, but now face a tricky task against the Catalan side at the intimidating Stade Aime Giral.

Perpignan have lost only one of their past 23 Heineken Cup fixtures at their Catalan stronghold.

Donnacha Ryan is one of four players drafted into the Munster side after recovering from knee ligament damage in October.

Scrum-half Cathal Sheridan, who impressed in the hour he played last week, gets the nod ahead of Duncan Williams to replace the injured Conor Murray.

There are two changes in the front-row with James Cronin and South African BJ Botha replacing Irish internationals Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer.

Bigger challenge

Head coach Rob Penney expects the French side to mount a bigger challenge on home soil.

"Yes, very much so," he told the club's official website. "They're steaming I think. They're alluding to a few things apparently about the refereeing and so forth.

"I think they're throwing some distractions and red herrings out there and trying to take away from the disappointment of the outcome so, to that end, they'll be trying to ambush us."

Perpignan have made a total of seven changes to the side that were well-beaten at Muster with giant second-row Sebastien Vahaamahina coming into the starting line-up behind a new front-row, with Luke Narraway captaining the team from number eight.

Fly-half Tommy Allan, who made his Italy debut in the November Tests, also starts alongside scrum-half Nicolas Durand, with Richard Haughton drafted into the starting XV on the right wing.

Perpignan: 15 Michel, 14 Haughton, 13 Mafi, 12 Votu, 11 Guitoune, 10 Allan, 9 Durand; 1 Taofifenua, 2 Terrain, 3 Ion, 4 Vahaamahina, 5 Vilaceca, 6 Leo, 7 Strokosch, 8 Narraway (c).

Replacements: 16 Guirado, 17 Cotet, 18 Custoja, 19 Purll, 20 Ecochard, 21 Marty, 22 Benvenuti, 23 Perez.

Munster: 15 Jones, 14 Earls, 13 Laulala, 12 Downey, 11 Murphy, 10 Keatley, 9 Sheridan; 1 Cronin, 2 Varley, 3 Botha, 4 Ryan, 5 O'Connell, 6 O'Mahony (c), 7 Dougall, 8 Coughlan.

Replacements: 16 Casey, 17 Kilcoyne, 18 Archer, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 O'Donnell, 21 Williams, 22 Hanrahan, 23 Hurley.

Watch Perpignan v Munster live on Sky Sports 2 from 3.30pm on Saturday

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