Friday, April 24, 2015

Tries expected at Kingspan

Emma McGarry looks at Ulster and Leinster ahead of their clash in Kingspan Stadium on Friday.


You could argue that form will play a part in this match but as Leinster displayed in France, this is not always the case.

Ulster have won 4 of their last 5 matches, and like Leinster, they also lost to Dragons away.

Leinster have lost 3 of their last 5 matches, drawing one against Glasgow Warriors, with a victory over Bath in the Aviva on 4th April.

Not great form on paper but their performance against Toulon in Marseille was encouraging to say the least. Most people didn’t give them any hope to beat Toulon, even the more dedicated supporters were skeptical. But for long periods of the match Leinster were actually much more organised than a “French” side who looked like they never trained together. Leinster although they made some costly mistakes, they lost trying to win the match. And to keep grinding away for 100 minutes is no mean feat. It definitely gives us some hope for next season if not for the rest of the present one. Coach Matt O’Connor has made 4 changes to the side that faced Toulon, dropping Madigan to the bench to make way for D’Arcy. It will be interesting to see if Gopperth can manage the match without Madigan. Strauss comes in for Cronin who must be fairly tired after an exhausting semi final in France. Dominic Ryan starts ahead of Jordi Murphy who had a fantastic game last week.

Ulster are playing some good rugby at the moment, scoring 5 tries against Connacht in their last match. The team that faced Connacht is unchanged ahead of their clash with Leinster. A strong side. Gilroy is the leading try scorer in the Pro12, this is a problem for Leinster who have struggled to score tries this year. Ulster have some great players with incredible pace.

Both sides have lost players to injury, Ulster have lost Stuart Olding to a knee injury for nine months and Leinster have lost Fergus McFadden to a thumb injury for the rest of their season. Kirchner is his replacement on the right wing.

While we can definitely expect tries from Ulster, Ben Te’o has demonstrated an ability to score tries. He’s a good finisher and I don’t doubt his abilities on the pitch. I think unless Leinster turn up with the right attitude and a desire to win, as they did in France last Sunday, Ulster might pull away in the second half if they build enough of a lead. Perhaps having less pressure on Leinster will benefit them.

Leinster captain, Jamie Heaslip, makes his 200th appearance for the province on Friday night.

Match KO 7:30pm April 24th

Teams:
Ulster: 15. L Ludik 14. T Bowe 13. J Payne 12. D Cave 11. C Gilroy 10. P Jackson 9. R Pienaar
1. C Black 2. R Best CAPTAIN 3. W Herbst 4. D Tuohy 5. F Van der Merwe 6. I Henderson 7. C Henry 8. R Wilson
Replacements:16. R Herring 17. A Warwick 18. B Ross 19. R Diack 20. C Ross 21. P Marshall 22. I Humphreys 23. S McCloskey

Leinster: 15. R Kearney 14. Z Kirchner 13. B Te’o 12. G D’Arcy 11. L Fitzgerald 10. J Gopperth 9. I Boss
1. C Healy 2. R Strauss 3. M Ross 4. D Toner 5. M McCarthy 6. D Ryan 7. S O’Brien 8. J Heaslip
Replacements:16. S Cronin 17. J McGrath 18. T Furlong 19. B Marshall 20. J Murphy 21. E Reddan 22. I Madigan 23. D Fanning

Emma McGarry - Hugely interested in all aspects of rugby. Supporter of Irish and Leinster Rugby. "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad" - Brian O'Driscoll

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