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Empty feeling: Munster’s Matt Gallagher would love to see crowds back at games

Empty feeling: Munster’s Matt Gallagher would love to see crowds back at games

�INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Jamie Roberts scored for Dragons

Jamie Roberts scored for Dragons

�INPHO/Elena Barbini

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Empty feeling: Munster’s Matt Gallagher would love to see crowds back at games

Former Saracens full-back Matt Gallagher said he can't wait for crowds to be allowed back in at Thomond Park as he prepares for another night of rugby in an empty stadium.

The 24-year-old said he has settled in well in Limerick since his summer move from London and he returns to full-back for this evening's clash with Zebre, having scored his only two tries for Munster from that position against Dragons.

"It is always a little bit different running out at the empty stadium. Obviously, you want the fans there all of the time, but at the moment we can't.

"The boys on the sideline have been doing their best job to try and get some sort of atmosphere there but it is nothing compared to a packed Thomond Park. Hopefully in the near future we will be able to get some fans back in."

Six wins from six make this the best start to the league for Munster and Johann van Graan has made eight changes to the side which won in Glasgow on Monday night, with South African Chris Cloete recovering from a neck injury to make his second start of the season.

He comes into a back-row completed by Jack O'Donoghue and Gavin Coombes, fresh from his successive man-of-the-match awards.

Kerry native Jack Daly, a product of Castleisland RFC, is set to make his debut off the bench in the back-row, while Sean French, who came through Pres and Cork Con, is set to do likewise in the three-quarters.

√ Dragons secured their second victory in the Guinness PRO14 this season against Benetton Rugby in northern Italy.

The Welsh side scored three tries at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo and came away with a 26-19 win.

Dean Ryan named the same side that started against Munster four weeks ago and they set about showing that the break had not had an adverse effect.

A Sam Davies penalty gave Dragons an early advantage but Cherif Traore scored the first try of the game for Benetton, which was converted by Ian Keatley.

However, tries from Ashton Hewitt and Jamie Roberts put Dragons four points ahead at half-time, with Hame Faiva having crossed for a second score for the Italians.

Captain Rhodri Williams was alert to grab a third try in the second half and extend Dragons' lead and although they had what would have been a fourth from Owen Jenkins ruled out for a knee in touch before Tommaso Menoncello crossed for Benetton, the visitors held on.

√ London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney was full of praise for the club's new home after seeing them win their first fixture there with a 22-9 success over Leicester side.

After 20 years based in Reading, Irish moved back to their heartland of south-west London to take up residence at the Brentford Community Stadium, which they share with Brentford FC.

Kidney said after the Premiership success: "It was a massive occasion and to win after all the effort that has gone on behind the scenes was icing on the cake.

"It's a magnificent club stadium where the supporters are very close to the pitch and we look forward to a crowd coming in next Sunday against Sale"

Former Ulster outside half Paddy Jackson was London Irish's hero by converting Curtis Rona's try and adding five penalties for a match tally of 17 points.

Kidney continued: "Paddy missed a couple out there but he doesn't get carried away whether he succeeds or fails with his kicks, so we are very lucky to have him."

Belfast Telegraph


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