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Pro14

Fourie Aiming for Play-Offs with Cheetahs

Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie has set his sights on a play-off spot in the PRO14 this season but has pointed out the one area his team need to work on to get there

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(Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Toyota Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie believes his team should be aiming for a play-off spot in the PRO14 this season, but knows their away form must change to get there.

The Cheetahs are in Conference A this year along with the likes of Leinster, Ulster and Glasgow Warriors, but opened their account well with three home wins on the bounce only to lose their three away games that followed. 

The results have left them third in the table after the opening six rounds, and Fourie thinks that they should be competing in that area for the remainder of the season. 

“We are competing against three really strong teams for the three play-off places in our conference. Leinster are way out in front at the moment, but ourselves, Ulster and Glasgow Warriors are all very close together on the log. Only three of the four teams will go through. In the first season the Cheetahs played in the PRO 14 they won just one game away and lost just one at home and that was enough. But with those teams competing with us for places that probably won’t be enough this time. The way we see it we need to win four of five games away from home. And then we can’t afford to lose more than one or two at home,” he said. 

The South African-based side reached the play-offs during their first season in the competition due to their incredible home form, which saw them only lose one game on home soil throughout the whole season. 

However, as Fourie has stated that isn’t enough to get to the top anymore and he is hoping that his team can kick-start their winning run on the road when they take on the Ospreys this weekend. 

“This is definitely a good opportunity for us and we have noted that the Ospreys haven’t had a great season so far. But we know we still have to play well against them, and they may be better than their record suggests. Even though they lost, they played well against Munster (in the Champions Cup). They are a very good scrummaging team and their mauls are also really good. They are also a very disciplined team. They don’t concede many penalties, just eight a game, so you don’t get much opportunity to kick to touch to set up the lineout. You only get about 10 lineouts a game against them, and of course our lineout attack is one of our main weapons. We will have to play a lot from turn-overs and poor kicks,” he added. 

As mentioned above the Cheetahs are currently in third-place in Conference A, three-points off second-placed Ulster and two-points ahead of fourth-placed Glasgow. 

The Ospreys have had their struggles so far this season, but will hope, like most sides, that the return of some of their international stars will see them pick up points sooner rather than later. The Cheetahs will be aware that when stars return their opponents will become stronger, but Fourie and his team have a goal and if they can improve their performances away from home, who would put it past them reaching their target.

Pro14

Dan McFarland extends stay with Ulster for a further two years

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster Rugby Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has renewed his commitment to the province by signing a new two-year contract extension.

Since joining the club in August 2018, Ulster has regularly competed at the knock-out stages of both the Guinness PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup, including at the most recent Guinness PRO14 final – a first for the province in seven years. 

Of his contract renewal, Dan McFarland, said:

“I’m delighted to be signing again with Ulster. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two and a half years working and learning with some really good people, and I’m looking forward to continuing to help drive on our improvement as a group and as individuals.

“As a group, we are extremely ambitious in our aim to be consistently competing for championships. With exciting young talent continuing to emerge out of our Academy system, joining forces with the proven talent within our squad – many of whom have been recently recognised at international level – I look forward to what the weeks and months ahead hold as we take on our next challenges in the domestic league and in Europe this season.”

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, added:

“I’m extremely pleased to see Dan extend his commitment to Ulster Rugby, giving us the opportunity to continue to build on the fantastic work that he has done in his time here so far.

“It is plain to see, both on and off the field of play, the ethos that he has instilled in the group, and that is being borne out both in our performances and our results – a team of which the people of Ulster can be rightly and fiercely proud.  

“I’m looking forward to working with Dan in the coming years, to see where we can take this. It’s an exciting prospect.”

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Pro14

Ulster & Leinster announce teams for huge Inter-Pro Clash

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad has been named to face Leinster at the RDS Arena tomorrow evening (7.35pm kick-off).  

The team sees six changes to the side that defeated Munster at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday. Michael Lowry comes in to start at full-back and is joined on the wings by Matt Faddes and last weekend’s Player-of-the-Match, Ethan McIlroy. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will form the midfield duo, and in the half-backs, John Cooney will partner Billy Burns.  

Andrew Warwick and Marty Moore are named at loosehead and tighthead prop, with Rob Herring completing the front row at hooker. Alan O’Connor comes in to pair with captain Sam Carter in the second row. Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee make up the starting back row forwards.  

John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Nick Timoney will provide forward reinforcements off the bench. David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham will offer back line cover.   

Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 11, Friday 8 January at the RDS Arena (kick-off 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney. 

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.  

Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.  

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby in the RDS Arena in Round 11 of the Guinness PRO14 has been announced by Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm live on eir Sport and RTÉ Radio).

Johnny Sexton will captain the team as a number of players return from injury for the top of Conference A clash.

Hugo Keenan is selected at full back with Jordan Larmour back after a shoulder injury to start on the right wing and Dave Kearney selected on the left.

Robbie Henshaw starts in the inside centre jersey with Ross Byrne starting outside him in the number 13 jersey for the first time in his Leinster senior career.

In the half-backs, Jamison Gibson-Park is joined by captain Johnny Sexton.

Cian Healy starts at loosehead prop with Andrew Porter at tighthead, while Seán Cronin makes his first start of the season at hooker after recovering from a thumb injury.

Former Australian international Scott Fardy is joined by James Ryan in the second row while, in the back row, fit-again Rhys Ruddock starts with Josh van der Flier at openside and Caelan Doris at number eight.

On the bench, Harry Byrne returns from a back injury picked up in the warm-up before the Northampton Saints game.

Team News from Ulster Rugby & Leinster Rugby

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Pro14

Ulster to welcome 1,000 fans for Scarlets clash

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster Rugby last night announced that 1,000 supporters will be welcomed to the Kingspan Stadium this weekend. Statement from Ulster Rugby below:

The doors of Kingspan Stadium will open to 1,000 supporters this weekend when Ulster Rugby welcome Scarlets in Round 7 of the Guinness PRO14 (Sunday 22 November, kick-off 7.35pm).

The Ulster Men have played behind closed doors since the opening game of the season against Benetton Rugby when the club successfully trialled the safe return of spectators following extensive consultation with the IRFU, Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Executive.

All 500 pairs of tickets will be made available to #TogetherUlster Members only via an online ballot process. Members who applied for tickets to the Benetton match but missed out due to limited availability will receive priority in the ballot.

Sunday night’s match will feature a mix of seating and terracing in operation across all four stands and the East Terrace. Tickets are again priced at £20 each, allocated in groups of two with two-metre physical distancing factored in.

The online ballot will be open for 24 hours from 1pm on Tuesday 17 November on the Ulster Rugby Ticket Account Manager, and account holders can apply for one pair of tickets per every Adult #TogetherUlster Membership held. All successful applicants will be notified on Wednesday evening once the ballot has closed and tickets have been allocated. Members will then have until 1pm on Thursday 19 November to confirm their ticket purchase and process payment.

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