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Leinster Rugby vs Ulster Rugby
Royal Dublin Society Showgrounds, Dublin 4
Sunday, 29 March 2009, 17:30

Television: Live Setanta Ireland
Season Ticket: Magners League 7 - Picture of Hugo McNeill

After the heights of Ireland's magnificent Grand Slam win last week, it's back down to earth as Leinster face Ulster in the Magners League this Sunday. Yet far from an anti-climax, Leinster fans will actually be glad to be back at the RDS after being away for two months. It promises to be an exciting game as Leinster continue their pursuit of leaders Munster against a team that's come on in leaps and bounds under Matt Williams. As a former Leinster coach, Williams will be dying to put one over on his former players, and as Ulster's sensational win in Munster showed, they are not a team to be under-estimated.

Williams has named Grand Slam heroes Rory Best, Tom Court and Paddy Wallace in his starting line-up, with Stephen Ferris missing out due to the hand injury sustained early in the Wales match. BJ Botha completes a powerful looking front row with Court and Best. There's a youthful lock pairing in Ryan Caldwell and Ed O'Donoghue and another promising young player Chris Henry is rewarded for his good form at number eight as he holds off the challenge of the returning Robbie Diack. David Pollack and Matt McCullogh play either side of Henry and complete the pack.

The backs don't look too bad either. Isaac Boss has returned to form recently and he partners Ian Humpheys who's made the number 10 jersey his own. Paddy Wallace will be eager to take on Gordon D'Arcy, the man who took his starting jersey in the Ireland team and he partners Darren Cave, yet another of Ulster's exciting young guns. They've two internationals on the wing in Andrew Trimble and Scotland's Simon Danielli and Clinton Schifcofske starts at full back.

With four internationals, Brian O'Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip enjoying a well deserved week off, Michael Cheika is still able to name a strong team. There are only two changes to the team that gained such a valuable away win at the Ospreys. Leo Cullen returns from injury to captain the team in place of Trevor Hogan and vice captain Chris Whitaker also returns at scrum-half.

Leinster will undoubtedly have one eye on next week's showdown against Munster and an even bigger match the week after, but they would be ill advised to take Ulster lightly. But you can still see Leinster doing enough to win.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Ulster Rugby
Teams Girvan Dempsey 15 Schifcofske
Shane Horgan 14 Andrew Trimble
Fergus McFadden 13 Darren Cave
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Paddy Wallace
Isa Nacewa 11 Simon Danielli
Felipe Contepomi 10 Ian Humphreys
Chris Whitaker 9 Isaac Boss

Cian Healy 1 Tom Court
Bernard Jackman 2 Rory Best (C)
Stan Wright 3 BJ Botha
Leo Cullen (C) 4 Ed O'Donahue
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Ryan Caldwell
Cameron Jowitt 6 Matt McCullough
Shane Jennings 7 David Pollock
Rockie Elsom 8 Chris Henry

Replacements John Fogarty 16 Nigel Brady (for Best)
CJ van der Linde (for Wright, 50)
replaced by Wright, 58
17 Bryan Young (for Botha)
Trevor Hogan (for O'Kelly, 61) 18 Carlo del Fava (for Caldwell)
Sean O'Brien (for Jowitt, 50) 19 Robbie Diack (for Henry)
Devin Toner (for Jennings, 72) 20 Cillian Willis (for Boss)
Jonny Sexton (for McFadden, 50)
21 Ian Whitton (for Humphries)
Simon Keogh (for D'Arcy, 71) 22 Timosi Nagusa (for Cave)

Officials Referee: Carlo Damasco (FIR)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan (IRFU), Daragh McCormack (IRFU)
4th Official: Peter Dennehy (ARLB)
5th Official: Barry O'Keeffe (ARLB)
TMO: Bertie Smith (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2009-03-31

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