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Ulster Rugby vs Leinster Rugby
Pro 14
Ravenhill, Belfast

Saturday, 27th April 2019, 17:15

TV: Live on Eir Sports

Leinster did the job last week much easier than expected against Toulouse, but it will be a lot tougher against Billy the bigot and his chums in Newcastle in two weeks time.

But before that there's a final regular season fixture for Leinster to fulfill and then it's all serious matches from here on in. Perhaps more surprising is that there is nothing on the line either for Ulster. They secured second place in the conference and a home play-off match with a superb 29-7 win away to Edinburgh last time out. They will now face Connacht next Saturday and it should be a game well worth watching but they would like to go into that game full of confidence on the back of another win.

Of course Ulster will still be thinking of what could have been if Jacob Stockdale had grounded that ball properly four weeks ago in the quarter-final in the Aviva. The notion that Ulster would surely have won from there have been a bit over-played as Leinster still had the rest of the half to come back. But there's no doubting Ulster played really well in that game and if they can reproduce that sort of intensity in the play-offs then they have a chance of making the final.

With Connacht coming up next week Dan McFarland had opted to rest his first-choice team team. Darren Cave will captain Ulster as he prepares for retirement at the end of the current campaign and he partners Peter Nelson in midfield. David Busby returns after a knee injury to make his first start of the season for the hosts in a back three containing fellow academy products Mike Lowry and Angus Kernohan. Johnny McPhillips starts at out-half alongside Dave Shanahan. Andy Warwick, John Andrew and Ross Kane are selected in the front row, with Ian Nagle and Alan O'Connor ready to offer support from the second row. Matty Rea, Clive Ross and Sean Reidy complete the forward pack.

For Leinster the Toulouse game came at a price with a number of players nursing knocks. So Leo Cullen has opted to rest the entire starting team from last week. In the pack Jack McGrath is named to start at loosehead against the team he's joining next season in what could well be his final appearance for Leinster. He's joined by Bryan Byrne and Michael Bent in the front row. Oisin Dowling will make his first senior start alongside Josh Murphy in the second row. Will Connors continues his return from an ACL injury to start in the back row along with Max Deegan and Caelan Doris, who both came off the bench last Sunday.

In the backs Ross Byrne will captain the province for the first time, starting in a half-back partnership with Nick McCarthy who will also be likely making his final Leinster appearance before leaving for Munster in the summer. Elsewhere in the back line the experienced Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden are selected on the wings with Jimmy O'Brien at full-back. Noel Reid, who announced his departure to Leicester during the week, and Joe Tomane are in the centres. Ryan Baird, who made two appearances for Ireland U20 in their recent Six Nations Grand Slam-winning campaign, could make his senior debut from the bench. He will become the 57th player used by Cullen this season should he be called upon.

This is pretty much a dead rubber for both teams and the selections reflect that. Not a game likely to live long in the memory regardless of the result.

Team Lineups

Ulster Rugby

Leinster Rugby
Teams Mike Lowry 15 Jimmy O'Brien
David Busby 14 Fergus McFadden
Darren Cave (C) 13 Joe Tomane
Peter Nelson 12 Noel Reid
Angus Kernohan 11 Dave Kearney
Johnny McPhillips 10 Ross Byrne (C)
Dave Shanahan 9 Nick McCarthy

Andy Warwick 1 Jack McGrath
John Andrew 2 Bryan Byrne
Ross Kane 3 Michael Bent
Ian Nagle 4 Josh Murphy
Alan O'Connor 5 Oisin Dowling
Matty Rea 6 Max Deegan
Clive Ross 7 Will Connors
Sean Reidy 8 Caelan Doris

Replacements Adam McBurney 16 Ronan Kelleher
Tommy O'Hagan 17 Peter Dooley
Tom O'Toole 18 Vakh Abdaladze
Nick Timoney 19 Ryan Baird
Marcus Rea 20
Scott Penny
Jonny Stewart 21 Paddy Patterson
Jack Owens 22 Ciaran Frawley
Rob Lyttle 23 Barry Daly

Not Considered
Due to Injury
Rory Best,
Marty Moore,
Robert Baloucoune,
Jacob Stockdale

Dan Leavy,
Josh van der Flier,
Mick Kearney,
Adam Byrne,
Ross Molony,
Rhys Ruddock,
Sean Cronin,
Jamison Gibson-Park
Officials Referee: George Clancy (IRFU),
Assistant Referees: Joy Neville (IRFU), Eddie Hogan O'Connell (IRFU),
TMO: Leo Colgan (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2019-04-26