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Champions Cup

Ringrose Hat-Trick Helps Leinster to Victory

Leinster got their Champions Cup campaign off to the perfect start with an opening round victory over Benetton

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster started their Champions Cup campaign with a 33-19 win over Benetton at the RDS this afternoon.

A Garry Ringrose hat-trick, along with further tries from Ronan Kelleher and captain Johnny Sexton saw the hosts past the Italian outfit and to a bonus-point victory despite five-pointers from Dean Budd, Epalahame Faiva and Luca Sperandio for the away side. 

Leinster’s returning Rugby World Cup stars were impressive upon their return to the European stage with Ringrose going over for the first try of the game after some good hands sent him over in the left-corner four minutes in. Sexton couldn’t converted the extras, but it was 5-0 following a fast start. 

However, the Italian team hit back within minutes as Budd barged through a tackle from Andrew Porter to make it even on the scoreboard. Former Munster man Ian Keatley added the conversion to push the away team in front. 

On the quarter-hour mark Leinster went ahead once again as Devin Toner set-up Ringrose for his and host’s second try. Sexton sent the kick through the posts this time around to make it 12-7. 

Things got worse for Benetton just before the half-hour mark as Nicola Quaglio was sent to the sin-bin for a high-tackle on Kelleher. 

The Irish hooker went over for his try three minutes later, picking from the back of a ruck, before faking a pass to Josh van der Flier, and barrelling over for his seventh try of the season already, with six to his name already in the PRO14. Sexton made no mistake with the kick to push Leinster into a 19-7 half-time lead. 

Just like in the opening half Leinster went over for a try four minutes in, as Sexton secured the bonus-point as he broke through the opposition defence before getting a pass off van der Flier to go over for the try. He converted his own try to make it 26-7. 

With just under half an hour remaining Faiva got in for a try as he evaded defenders to score. Keatley converted as the Italians cut into the lead, giving them a chance to push for a comeback. 

Although it was not to be as the boys in blue scored their fifth try as Ringrose went over to score his hat-trick. Replacement fly-half Ross Byrne scored the conversion. 

With a minute remaining the Italians got a consolation try as Sperandio went over in the corner leaving it at 33-19 when the whistle blew. 

It gives Leinster a perfect start to Pool 1 as they look to try and win a record fifth European title, while Benetton put in another impressive performance as they continue to rise through the ranks. 

Next up for the home side is an away trip to Lyon, while Benetton take on Northampton Saints next weekend as they hope to pick up their first points of the group stage. 

Challenge Cup

Ulster name team for Northampton Quarter-Final trip

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad for the trip to face Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday (kick-off 8pm).

Michael Lowry is named to start at full-back, and is joined in the back three by Jacob Stockdale and Robert Baloucoune. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will form the midfield duo, and Billy Burns and John Cooney are the starting half-backs.

In the front row, Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Marty Moore retain their starting berths. Alan O’Connor will partner Kieran Treadwell in the second row. Last week’s Player of the Match, Sean Reidy, will start at blindside flanker, with Jordi Murphy skippering the team at openside and Nick Timoney at Number Eight.

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea and Greg Jones will provide the forward reinforcements from the bench, with Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan and Ethan McIlroy named as the back line options.

Ulster team to play Northampton Saints, Challenge Cup Quarter-Final, Saturday 10 April at Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off 8pm, live on BT Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy (Capt.), Nick Timoney.

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, Greg Jones, Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.

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Champions Cup

Big names miss out for Ulster

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(Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Ulster match-day squad to face Gloucester tomorrow afternoon in Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup has been named (Kingsholm Stadium, kick-off 3.15pm).  

The back line sees just one change from the side that played Toulouse last Friday. Michael Lowry, Jacob Stockdale and Matt Faddes all retain their positions in the back three. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume are the starting midfield duo. Billy Burns returns at fly-half and will captain the side; he will partner John Cooney at scrum-half.  

The front row remains unchanged for this game. Rob Herring is named at hooker, with Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore packing down at loosehead and tighthead prop. Alan O’Connor will partner with his brother David – who will make his first Heineken Champions Cup start with Sam Carter missing out through concussion. Sean Reidy has been selected at blindside, with Jordi Murphy returning at openside. Nick Timoney comes in to start at Number Eight to replace the injured Marcel Coetzee.

John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, and Greg Jones are the forward bench options. Academy player, Ethan McIlroy could make his European debut if called upon from the bench, and is named alongside Alby Mathewson and Ian Madigan in the back line replacements.    

Ulster team to play Gloucester, Heineken Champions Cup Round 2, Saturday 19 December 2020 at Kingsholm Stadium, kick-off 3.15pm, live on BT Sport / beIN Sport:  

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns (Capt.), John Cooney; 

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, David O’Connor, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney. 

Replacements: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Matty Rea, Greg Jones, Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.  

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Champions Cup

Ulster name strong side to face Toulouse

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(Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad for the province’s opening Pool game of the 2020-21 Heineken Champions Cup against Toulouse on Friday (kick-off 8pm, Kingspan Stadium). 

In the back three, Jacob Stockdale returns from international duty to the left wing, joining Michael Lowry at full-back and Matt Faddes on the right wing. In midfield, Stuart McCloskey also returns from the Ireland squad to partner with James Hume. Ian Madigan has been named at fly-half alongside John Cooney at scrum-half. 

Having made his international debut against Scotland last week, Eric O’Sullivan, comes in to take the starting berth at loosehead prop. Rob Herring also returns from Ireland duties and is named at hooker, with Marty Moore retaining his position at tighthead. Alan O’Connor will partner with Sam Carter, who will lead the side from the second row. Sean Reidy and Jordi Murphy are named at blindside and openside, with Marcell Coetzee completing the pack at Number Eight. 

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, and Matty Rea provide the forward options, with Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore and Craig Gilroy offering back line cover from the bench. 

Ulster team to play Toulouse, Heineken Champions Cup Round 1, Friday 11 December 2020 at Kingspan Stadium, kick-off 8pm, live on BT Sport / beIN Sport:

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Ian Madigan, John Cooney; 

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee. 

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Matty Rea, Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore, Craig Gilroy.

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