Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Keego on...Saracens' Everest



Check out Keego's podcast
at thecouchpundit.podbean.com
With the countdown to the Heineken Champions Cup final beginning in earnest this week let’s have a 2 week run in to the match.  This week let’s look at the psychological battle that will take place in Newcastle between Leinster and Newcastle. 
Psychology first because the teams have a lot of rugby to play before the final and with it being a one off final, form isn’t as important. 
So with a quick look at the season so far. 
Saracens sit second by a mile in the Gallagher’s Premiership. Exeter sit atop the league with 81 points after 20 games, Sarries sit snugly at 72 points. 15 wins 5 losses, scored 577 points (70 tries) and conceded 402 (39 tries).  They are +175 in points difference so far. So the first point is that they have scored less tries than the league leaders, 12 less tries also conceding 4 less tries. The interesting thing about the English league is that Exeter is in charge and in charge by a margin, but in Europe the roles are reversed. Exeter is not a threat in Europe. Why is that? 
Have Saracens decided to coast in the league to aim at Europe? How very un-English of them. I think Saracens see the Champions Cup as a massive piece of creating a rugby dynasty. Leinster already has 4 of those stars, to be talked about in the same breath then Saracens must reach the next odd number in stars. 
In terms of the game plan, it appears that they work through a triangle of players. Farrell, Itoje and Mako. Are their playmakers. They have class all over the pitch but those players are the ones who run the show. There is a massive gap between the backups for these players and so the pressure to keep them on the pitch is massive. While they may be aiming more at Europe they want to compete at home. Workload and managing players is the big worry. If they can get the above 3 on the pitch come final day, they will be confident. A confident Saracens side is dangerous! But, imagine if one of those players doesn’t make the final, how does that affect the mind-set of the team?
So let’s move to Leinster and have a look at how they have gotten on so far this season. 
Psychologically speaking it has been a season of ups and downs. The ups preceded the 6 nations and then the slight downs followed. Players where slowly brought back into the fold, and the team was blooding new players. While doing that, the results didn’t go the team’s way. This is where the management team have earned their crust. The heads have been kept up, even in the face of a lack of momentum. For me, while never worried, there were a few head scratching moments up until the Glasgow game. Even with a loss against Glasgow, Leinster where starting to put the game together for Toulouse. Big phase plays and the old Leinster-Jitzu style or strangling the positivity out of the opposition. It didn’t work on the day but the signs where good. Rolling into the Toulouse game it was the most positive I had been in a while. The game plan that was germinating (my biology teacher would be proud of this reference) against Glasgow was blooming into a beanstalk against Toulouse. So this means that the tough times built stronger players. A great sign. A great thing to be able to look at your team mates, whatever the configuration, and know they have been in the trenches with you. Saracens don’t have that. Leo and Stuart have built this from the under 19’s up. 
Leinster has players that must take the field also. Furlong, Sexton, Ryan and Kearney. The spine built along the team is massively important. Yes like Sarries there is class everywhere but the spine is what holds the body together.  Furlong looks healthy after a knee scare a couple of weeks ago, Sexton was back to his mature and dominant best against Toulouse, Ryan is superman and Kearney has been written off more times that Harold Bishop in Neighbours (an old reference), but bounces back with the shark eyes in ready to take a bite. He has been immense in his years in rugby. Have a think about any other player who has been around as long as he has and performed in big matches like that! There aren’t many.
So where does that leave the Leinster head going into the 2 weeks prep for the final? Well, far healthier than 3 weeks ago. When the go to plays start working, when they see the opposition wilting under the pressure that feeds the confidence. 
Saracens have confidence too, but they haven’t been through a slump, they don’t know if they can get through a slump, they don’t know if they can navigate the game against a team with 4 stars. They haven’t done it, and until they do, it remains Everest.
Leinster is Everest!    

@nkeegan on twitter and www.thecouchpunditireland.com for more. 

Keego (@nkeegan): Blogger, professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.

*****
Want to see your own rugby opinions on the web?
Click "Write for us" in the sidebar to find out how.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Ulster-14 Leinster-13



You won't believe he amount of Game of Thrones references I had ready for this writeup.  With it being the last match of the regular season, the title was to be 'Kingspan Landing' and you can use your imagination for the rest. 

The reason I planned to lean so heavily on the fact that much of the show is shot in Belfast is that this was frequently billed as a 'dead rubber'.  Whatever the result, Leinster were going to finish top of Conference B, the Ulstermen were going to finish second, and both had much more significant contests to consider in the weeks to come. 

But it wasn't a bad game of rugby as it turned out, though a small homage to the epic fantasy series (and this week's episode in particular - though no spoilers I promise) was still worthy, because this was a rubber that refused to die right up to the end. 

For the first half an hour or so it looked like the two sides were going to cancel themselves out playing a very similar style of rugby.  Phase after phase after phase met by tackle after tackle after tackle and after not too long the odds of an error leading to a score seemed just as likely as a final score of 0-0. 

There was of course one major incident of note in those early stages, involving Fergus McFadden.  In my preview I pointed out that both he and Dave Kearney on our opposite wing had to be highly motivated to stand out in this match - though perhaps not this way. 

About five minutes earlier, Ferg was involved in a ruck where studs accidentally scraped his forehead, so he already looked like he had been in the wars before this talking point happened.  And to be honest, I'm not altogether sure what transpired between himself and Ulster number 8 Sean Reidy - it seemed to be your average bout of post-ruck handbags. 

But from the view afforded by the one camera angle to capture the incident, he definitely appeared to head butt Reidy. It was a sending off all day long in my book - I couldn't believe the officials' decision that it was just a penalty. 

As one commentator pointed out, in many ways Reidy hurt his team's cause by not going down in agony as many footballers would, and if that's true, it's a sad state of affairs.  The contact to the head should be enough regardless of the reaction, and I also find it hard to believe that there wasn't technology to enlarge our view of the incident. 

Yet stay on the park he did and you couldn't help feeling that this was somehow going to have an effect on the match down the line, which it did, though not until there was some other scoring first. 

Leinster eventually got points on the board after finally putting together a series of phases that managed to stretch the opposition D.  14 altogether, with ultimately a long pass from Ross Byrne arcing over the cover to fall for Jimmy O'Brien to get the ball down. 

With whatever was left of Storm Hanna still knocking around, goalkicking down at that end was something of a challenge and Ross Byrne's first placekick attempt had gone wide despite being relatively central.  This conversion was from near the touchline and although he gave it a good wallop it didn't make it over so it was 5-0. 

Ulster's response was practically instant.  The restart went directly to the Munster-bound scrum half Nick McCarthy, and he tried to clear but couldn't find touch, and eventually strong runs by Darren Cave and Dave Shanahan put the home side back on the front foot. 

Thanks to good support they got deep into our 22 and when Shanahan got himself a second carry, both Dave Kearney and Caelan Doris tried to get him down but instead it was more like they tackled each other allowing the 9 to break free and eventually get over the line. 

McPhillips had no problems with the Belfast breeze to add the extras, but with the clock nearing the 40th minute Ross Byrne finally had success of his own with a penalty to restore our lead. 

This should have been the end of the half, but we returned to our habit from the opening weeks of the season when we always seemed to squeeze an extra score out of a half, and this is where the non-red on McFadden (surely he will be cited?) came into play. 

Having just regained the lead, most teams would have been happy to end the half but we played our way from inside our own 22 to wind up winning a penalty outside Ulster's after 13 phases. 

Again we ignored the seemingly easier option and put ourselves under pressure by going for the corner and making a try something of a necessity to take full advantage of this situation. 

Skipper for the day Ross Byrne looked to be backing up his decision well when he called a wraparound move which afforded him enough space to make a try seem certain but he slipped at the vital moment so it looked as though all was lost. 

His inside centre Noel Reid, however, got things back on track by firing a perfect looping pass to the touchline where Ferg was eagerly waiting - there was a lot of work to do to provide the finish but he did it well.  Ross was again unable to add the extra two points, this time from the opposite touchline to before. 

We started the second half with another strong exit from our 22 with Jimmy O'Brien finding space to get it to halfway before Joe Tomane, who seems to have found a new lease of Leinster life at 13 in recent weeks, piled on the pressure by grubbering one to touch in the Ulster 22. 

From the there the game threatened to fall back into 'cancelling each other out' mode until it came back to life yet again when Ulster fullback Lowry sprinted half the length of the pitch putting his side on the front foot and thus beginning by far the most interesting spell of the match. 

Roared on by the home crowd, Ulster proceeded to get their offence going and while our line speed and tackling were doing well, the odd foot was straying offside and as was the odd tackle slipping high (often called by assistant ref Joy Neville - some criticised her for being vocal but I reckon more ARs should get involved), so we were being frequently pinged for advantages, and when the infringements were happening under our posts, they chose to go for the scrum option. 

Here is where the interpretation of the Laws got interesting once more.  In a repeated series of scrums on our line, Marcus Rea, who was on at number 8 for Reidy, seemed to think he was free to guide the ball with his hand to a favourable position each time while the scrum was still set and driving forward.  No need for a wider camera shot this time - it was plain to see. 
"Any player within the scrum may play the ball but only with their feet or lower legs and they must not lift the ball. Sanction: Penalty." 
The Laws are pretty clear on this in Section 19, yet he did it again and again throughout this sequence.  It hardly an offence of an equal nature to that of McFadden, but at least his was called as a penalty. 

Still, when you overlook or miss the transgressions much as the officials did, you see a prolonged spell of Ulster pressure which proceeded to test Leinster's defence to the fullest. By full time, we had made a whopping 266 tackles with 95% success rate, and the bulk of the work was done by Josh Murphy (27) Doris (28) and Will Connors (33). 

The penalty advantages were still coming however, and eventually George Clancy had to issue a yellow card with young lock Oisin Dowling the recipient.  That didn't stop us from making life difficult for the Ulster attackers, however. 

I have said before on these pages that having a man already in the bin shouldn't prevent the ref from carding another if the penalties keep happening and again I felt we we lucky as there were more offsides called.  

But while Ulster finally did manage to get a converted try to nudge in front (with ironically the handsy Rea himself getting the touchdown when we finally blinked at the breakdown leaving the pillar unguarded), it came a full 16 minutes after Lowry's initial burst and Dowling was able to return to the action in time for the restart. 

This meant we had an entire quarter to get back the lead, while also knowing it could well take a lot out of our hosts to score again.  By this stage Ross Byrne had been replaced as playmaker by Ciaran Frawley and he quickly got us moving with this time a 13-phase series getting us into the 22 before a little grubber through seemed to set up another sub, Barry Daly, for a score. 

However the final bounce of the ball took it a lot higher than expected, and although Daly made a heroic effort to clutch it and dot it down, not only had he run out of pitch (by a fraction) but it seems to have cost him an arm injury which hopefully only ruled him out for the rest of this match. 

We were to have one final opportunity in the closing stages; with a high tackle for a penalty advantage in a central (yet not an easy distance with the wind) position seemingly in our back pocket, we made a lot of ground into the Ulster 22 but on the next phase after Clancy declared the advantage over, our sub hooker Ronan Kelleher was unable to collect the ball. 

Scott Penny forced a good steal as Ulster tried to wind down the clock but in the end it was another strong tackle from Darren Cave, who I thought deserved the man of the match award more than actual recipient Marcus Rea, that brought the match to an end.

And what a reaction from the Ulster players, coaches and fans alike when the final whistle blew!  You'll just have to trust me that I'm being sincere when I say I was delighted or them.  Of course no one likes to see their team lose but I have harped before on how Ulster have had some rotten luck in recent years so I couldn't begrudge them these celebrations. 

Back to our side of things, this finally brought our disappointing series of 'midseason preseason' matches to a close, with zero wins out of four.  Munster fans will no doubt try not to let us forget that they pipped us for match points in the final tally, though should they overcome Benetton next week the home advantage in the semifinal will tell its own story. 

And it's not like we haven't learned anything from these games - with all attention on both Leinster's imminent knockout fixtures plus Ireland's World Cup campaign, it's worth remembering that Leo Cullen & co have a host of players vying for spots in our squad at the start of next seasons Pro14, which is later than usual at the end of September. 

It looks like we have been trying players out at full back, with Barry Dally and Jimmy O'Brien getting some game time there.  I thought both did well on offence, but at times we were lacking in a lot of the 'housekeeping' 15 work we have come to take for granted by Rob Kearney, so it will be interesting to see how we go. 

Another good option that seems to have emerged is Joe Tomane.  He seems much more willing to attack the gain line from outside centre, has had some positive results, and has improved defensively as well. 

So that brings the 21-round Pro 14 regular season to a close, and easily the biggest take away for Irish rugby fans is the impressive achievement of getting all four provinces into the playoffs.  No doubt that will give the league's detractors more ammunition as though the competition is somehow slanted in our favour, but I reckon we're worthy of merit in our own right and shouldn't be ashamed of it. 

We'll see who is sitting on the league's iron throne when the full time whistle blows in Glasgow at the end of May.  You just knew I had to get one last reference in there, didn't you? JLP


Since Leinster have the coming week off, we reckon we'd take a break as well; hope you don't mind.  Naturally if something tickles our fancy in the meantime we'll post or tweet about it but our regular features will resume next Monday for the build up to Newcastle. Do stay tuned!

HarpinOnRugby match writeups are brought to you by 


#CommittedToTheGame  

Naoupu wins Leinster Player of the Year by Ciarán Duffy




Amongst all the prizes given out at the Leinster Awards night on Sunday, one that shouldn’t be lost is the one that was given to the Leinster womens captain.  Sene Naoupu was awarded the Energia Women’s Rugby Award.  


Leinster Women won all three of their games in the inter-pro series at the start of the season.  It’s a shame they only play three games at provincial level.  It’d be great if they could fit more in to coincide with the club game.  It would really at to it if the provinces played each other home and away, or if there was some sort of competition between Welsh and Scottish sides, or possibly Italian too.  A European Cup might be a bit of a way of at the moment, but it should be strived for ultimately.  

Sene has been a sensation for Ireland since making her competitive debut since 2016.  She’s been an ever-present in the squad since then, and seems to never have a bad game.  She’s shown her fitness levels, having featured in every game at the 2017 World Cup.  It’s been a difficult few years for the Womens National side, but the players have carried themselves well in building towards the next World Cup, and Naoupu is a key leader in the side.  In these difficult transitional times for the womens side we should recognize the great talent that is there.  


There was tough competition in the squad for the award, there were Ireland internationals like Aoife McDermott, and Lindsey Peat in the squad to name a few.  


My personal favourite memory of seeing her play was last November at an international against the USA.  I told my brother to look out for number 13 green, just as he pointed out to say “that player there” Sene gave a USA defender an almighty clattering into next week.  My point was made for me and I didn’t have to explain any further.  


If you haven’t heard it you should read up on her story of overcoming mental health problems on her way to becoming an Ireland international, it’s truly inspiring.  

C:\Users\Admin\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.MSO\220950DA.tmpFollow @PostToPostSport
on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
for Rugby, Wrestling, Football,
and Irish Sports News.  
Post to Post Sport,
Telling it Like it Might be.


Ciarán Duffy (@Voicenstein) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport).   He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.
*****
Want to see your own rugby opinions on the web?
Click "Write for us" in the sidebar to find out how.

Front Five - 29.04.19

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.



...the joy Ulster took from beating Leinster on Saturday suggested it meant something beyond a meaningless four PRO14 points


Orla Bannon - Irish Examiner

(It will be) Con’s fourth successive league final, clashing with Clontarf at the Aviva Stadium next Sunday


Dave Mervyn - The42.ie

The Leinster League Division 1A champions managed to hold off a determined Wicklow outfit


Ryan Corry - LeinsterRugby.ie

Whatever is put on the table next will be what's on offer, so either clubs will sign up to it or go bog snorkelling.


Brendan Fanning - Irish Independent

Neither player was carded for the incident


Shay Waterworth - RugbyDump

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Online comments after Ulster v Leinster

A selection of the “keyboard warrior” reactions after the full-time whistle of our featured matches of the weekend.

If you’d like to contribute stay tuned to
our Facebook page for our “Feel free to leave your thoughts…” posts which show up around full time after Leinster & Ireland matches.


Sean MacDonnchadha 3rd string going away to a tough place and giving a decent account of themselves - May be disappointed with themselves cause the win was there to be taken however. Jimmy at 15 looks dangerous, Baird and Connors very busy and physical. Tomane still not living up to his potential. DK had a game to forget.


Dónal Foley There were plenty of positives. Handling let us down in key places.


Alan Murphy Quick question. I didn’t think an 8 could channel the ball in a scrum with his hand. Rae did it at every scrum in our 22 prior to their 2nd half try. Can an 8 channel a ball through the second row with his hand?

Stephen Girvin (reply) ...he can’t pull it back with his hands and then keep it in and drive on...


Colin Mcconaghie As an Ulster fan was a more enjoyable game than I thought it would be. Two second/ third string teams who give their all. Nice for Ulster to come out on top for a change !


Craig Walker I actually thought it was a great game & a great performance by two young teams!!

Whether an 8 can channel the ball back or a player can get away with a headbutt neither team should feel shitty about that game. We both turned up & gave a good performance!!

I think the future is bright for both of us!!

#SUFTUM


Richard Mifsud Strangely pleased after a defeat. Expected a loss going into the match TBH but the lads played very well in patches and I was happy with some performances. Really confused how Ulster got over for the Rae try so looking forward to your analysis. Great experience for those young lads. Really happy with Ross Byrne’s captaincy. Great outings for Jack McGrath and Noel Reid. Joe Tomane too has improved. Future is really bright and extremely blue 🔵🏉 #COYBIB

Johnny Pullen (reply) Tomane is steadily getting there


Noel Hewson Ferg was lucky not to see red. Thought ref was patchy but when is it not in the Pro 14. Created some good chances. Young Jimmy looked good at 15. Hope Barry Daly’s injury is not bad. Big few weeks going.

Joan Breen Best team won


Paul Smith Fergus was very lucky not to see red. Other than that we played ok. Good experience for the young lads. Tough kicking conditions probably cost us the win but ultimately it was a means nothing game so hard to get too bothered one way or another. The real end to the season starts in 2 weeks time.

Gavin Doyle Hopefully our last defeat of the season! #DoubleDouble


Peter Murphy Leinster left it on the field, defence was superb #proudtobeblue

Odran John OBrien Well done Ulster but again in a Pro14 game the refereeing was awful


Garry Wynne Not a bad Leinster performance. 

McFadden's got another season in him?



Many thanks to all who offered opinions.

Look out Monday for our match writeup JLP

Front Five - 28.04.19

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

Six Pro 14 playoff slots
include all four Irish provinces


Fergus McFadden failed to be sanctioned with more than just a penalty for what appeared to be a lunge with the head at Sean Reidy.


Richard Mulligan - Belfast Newsletter

Saturday, May 18 – Leinster v Munster or Benetton Rugby, RDS, 3pm


IrishRugby.ie

It remains to be seen if Conor Murray is fit for the weekend. He was withdrawn late in the warn-up for an unspecified injury.


Brendan Fanning - Irish Independent

Andy Wood’s men...await the winners of (Sunday)’s semi-final between Cork Constitution and Dublin University


David Brady - The42.ie

Never change Joe.


Rugby Onslaught

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Front Five - 27.04.19

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

ICYMI click here for our
Ulster v Leinster preview


“I’m not Johnny [Sexton] so I’m not going to try to be Johnny. I just have to try and stamp my own authority on the team when I do play.”


Gerry Thornley - Irish Times

Darren Cave is named as captain in what appears to be his last start for Ulster at the Kingspan.


The Front Row Union

To overtake (Glasgow), Munster must beat Connacht and hope Edinburgh win at Scotstoun.


Simon Lewis - Irish Examiner

Defending champions UL are on track for a record 14th title...while this is Railway’s first final appearance


Katie Byrne - IrishRugby.ie

“We’ve had exams all week which is not ideal. Hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves."


Dave Mervyn - The42.ie

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby


Friday, April 26, 2019

Preview : Ulster v Leinster


Before I get to my thoughts on this particular match, I'd like to share a teeny tiny qualm I have with the Pro 14 format. 

Overall I think it has been very good for the league, easily putting to shame all the doubts and criticisms put out there by fellow keyboard warriors before a ball was even kicked. 

But I do think this practice of having an ‘all-derby’ round as the 21st and final one is a bad idea.  For one thing, with three playoff places up for grabs in each conference and 1st place earning a guaranteed home semifinal, it might be better to have the derbies in earlier rounds when there wouldn't be as much riding on the results. 

However I fear there could be an even bigger disadvantage.  While both teams in Conference B's top two are guaranteed to finish Saturday's match where they started on the table, there is a three-way scrap for the third and final playoff spot. 

Currently in pole position are Benetton, and what an achievement it would be for an Italian side to earn itself some top level knockout rugby.  But as much as I'd like to see this happen, were they to earn maximum points in their last match of the regular season, thus guaranteeing them 3rd place, is it crazy to raise an eyebrow given their opposition are Zebre? 

Of course I'm not saying Michael Bradley's side would be ‘told’ to ‘throw’ a match, but that said, having a team in the knockouts would be a great benefit to Italian rugby in general, so if either Edinburgh or the Scarlets were my team, I'd have to wonder if the Treviso club appeared to get their points too easily.  And that's a temptation that could befall any club from any nation in the competition, in case you think I'm just targeting the Italians. 

But I suppose that's just a ‘hot take’ on my part - it's about time I began harping on Saturday's match.

With nothing but pride to play for plus much bigger matches coming down the line (sooner for Ulster who host Connacht next week), it's of little surprise to see so many ‘marquee names’ missing from the matchday 23s. 

On Leinster's side of things, a few names stand out in the starting lineup on account of the players moving on - Noel Reid was revealed during the week to be headed for Leicester, Nick McCarthy is off to Munster, while Jack McGrath will be facing his future team mates. 

For me the boys in blue who have most at stake in this match are on the wings.  But for a combination of bad timing on the injury front and the rise of quality talent out of the academy, both Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden could well be high up Joe Schmidt's pecking order with a World Cup on the horizon.  With games fast running out in Leinster's season, they will surely be extra keen to make their mark. 

Then at 13 once more we have Joe Tomane, who despite being on the losing side against Glasgow a couple of weeks ago, put in a decent shift in the outside centre role and another one could put him in the frame for some action in May. 

In the pack we've a very interesting looking back row that could well be the future for Leinster.  Max Deegan is more than ready for the ‘elite’ level in my humble opinion, while both Will Connors and Caelan Doris shouldn't be too far behind him in terms of regular game time. 

I haven't done the research for my next claim but I reckon that in Oisin Dowling and Josh Murphy we could have the most inexperienced lock pairing ever to start for Leinster?  Add in the uncapped Ryan Baird on the bench and it will certainly make the lineout an area where the Ulstermen will feel they can exploit, with the likes of Nagle and O’Connor in their lineup. 

Ross Byrne gets the captain's duties on Saturday and the honour is well deserved - he has played a large part in our success in recent years and reaching his level of consistency can't have been easy given he was thrown in the deep end. 

As for Ulster while they also have other matches on their minds, the roars of ‘Stand Up…. ‘ throughout will be extra strong throughout the match as I reckon there's never a bad time for them to put one over the Leinster lads.  

The bookies have us winning by 4 points.  I honestly think this could go either way but while I rarely predict my team to be on the wrong end of a result, I may just do so here, mostly because of the abundance of untried combinations throughout the lineup.  I'll go with Ulster by 4. 

Whatever happens I hope there's a decent turnout on the day - sadly I can't make it up the M1 myself but I know many who can. 

Speaking of making it, if you're not bound for Newcastle for the Heineken Final on May 11th hopefully you'll be able to join me and a host of Leinster nuts at the Sandymount Hotel to watch the match.  Should be an awesome day with hopefully an awesome result - check here for the Facebook event page thingy with all the details. JLP

#COYBIB

Ulster : Michael Lowry; David Busby, Darren Cave (captain), Peter Nelson, Angus Kernohan; Johnny McPhillips, Dave Shanahan;
Andy Warwick, John Andrew, Ross Kane, Ian Nagle, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy;
Replacements : Adam McBurney, Tommy O’Hagan, Tom O’Toole, Nick Timoney, Marcus Rea, Jonny Stewart, Jack Owens, Rob Lyttle.

Guinness Pro 14 2018/19 Round 21
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Kickoff 5:15pm
Kingspan Stadium 

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
AR1 : Joy Neville (Ireland)
AR2 : Eddie Hogan O’Connell (Ireland)
TMO : Leo Colgan (Ireland)

Blog Archive