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Leinster Cruise to Victory Once Again

Leinster have continued their winning start to the 2019/20 PRO14 season with yet another impressive performance

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(Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have made it three bonus-point wins from three games at the start of the PRO14 season with a 40-14 victory over Edinburgh at the RDS tonight.

Tries from man of the match Jamison Gibson-Park, Michael Bent, Caelan Doris, Scott Penny, Vakh Abdaladze and Rowan Osbourne saw the hosts claim another impressive run-away win following their 53-5 dismissal of the Ospreys last weekend. 

Leinster had the best chances in the opening minutes, as Edinburgh struggled to get out of their own half. However, despite receiving two kickable penalties inside ten minutes Ross Byrne couldn’t find the target. 

Sandwiched in between the two penalty misses was a disallowed try as the hosts failed to make their territory count, but that changed in the 16th minute. Following a lovely break down the right by Dave Kearney, he tried a pass back inside to a teammate, but the ball instead hit James Lowe in the face inches out from the line. 

Gibson-Park pounced on the ball as it bounced over the try-line and after a TMO check the hosts had their first points of the game. Although Byrne was once again off colour from the tee leaving it at just 5-0. 

Edinburgh came roaring back, camping inside the Leinster 22 for the next 15 minutes, winning penalty after penalty at scrum-time. Eventually the hosts had Bent sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes and a couple of minutes on things got worse. 

Following a number of scrums the Scottish side managed to get the ball out to the right-hand side where they found themselves in a two on two situation that miss as winger James Farndale dived in for the try. 

If Leinster thought things couldn’t get worse they were proved wrong as centre Joe Tomane followed Bent to the sin-bin after he slid into Farndale knee-first as the winger scored reducing Leinster to 13-men. Once the TMO review had taken place Jaco van der Walt knocked over the conversion to give the visitors a 7-5 lead. 

Despite their disadvantage it was Leinster that took control for the remainder of the half and just as they got back their full compliment of players Bent barged over from close-range deep into the red zone and Byrne added the extras to give the hosts a 12-7 half-time lead. 

Leinster began the second-half as they ended the first and just three minutes in they were over for their third try of the game with Doris barrelling over close to the line. Byrne made no mistake with his kick to push them further in front. 

Five minutes on and the hosts replicated the score with Penny the one to push over the line this time around to secure the bonus-point. Bryne smashed over the conversion from in front of the posts to make it 26-7 with less than 10 minutes gone in the second period. 

The boys in blue continued to push forward and were rewarded with little under 20 minutes left as they went through a few phases in the opposition 22 before substitute Abdaladze powered over to score his sides fifth try of the night. Byrne converted once again to give them another two points. 

Leinster only had to wait little over a minute for their sixth try as their replacements began to shine. Jimmy O’Brien took the ball at pace inside his own half and darted through a gap before offloading to Lowe, who in turn offloaded brilliantly to Osbourne as he raced over to score his first try for the province.

Ross Byrne was replaced by brother Harry in between the two scores but the result was the same from the tee making it 40-7 with 15 minutes to go. 

The visitors hit back with just under ten minutes remaining through replacement scrum-half Charlie Shiel who sprinted over off the back of a scrum five-metres out from the line. Simon Hickey converted with what turned out to be the final score of the game as it ended 40-14 to Leinster. 

Next up for the reigning back to back champions is a trip to Zebre where they will look to maintain their 100% start to the season, while Edinburgh will play host the Scarlets in round four in two weeks time. 

Leinster Player Ratings

Starting XV:

Hugo Keenan (7), Dave Kearney (7), Rory O’Loughlin (7), Joe Tomane (8), James Lowe (7), Ross Byrne (7), Jamison Gibson-Park (9); Peter Dooley (7), Rónan Kelleher (7), Michael Bent (7), Devin Toner (7), Scott Fardy (8), Max Deegan (8), Scott Penny (8), Caelan Doris (7)

Replacements (9)

Pro14

Ulster announce batch of new contract extensions

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Two of Ulster’s most exciting and dynamic wing talents have today pledged their futures to the province alongside the experienced heads of Ireland cap, Luke Marshall, and lock, Alan O’Connor.

Winger, Baloucoune, has continually impressed with his agile performances for the Ulster men which have already earned him a call-up to the Ireland development squad since his debut in October 2018 against Dragons

With a return from injury on the horizon, it’s not long before fans will once again be able witness the familiar sight of the Enniskillen native’s charge for the try line. Of his two-year extension, Baloucoune, said:

“I’m excited to be part of this Ulster team, and what we can strive to achieve for in the near future. I’d like to thank the coaching staff and physios who have helped me through my long-term injury this season and I can’t wait to be back playing again.”

Ulster Rugby Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said:

“Rob has been in sensational form for us and has proven himself to be a prolific try-scorer as well as a superb defender. He’s been unlucky with injury this season, but he is not far off making his return which we’re all looking forward to.”

Ballymena-born, Luke Marshall, who has made 144 appearances for Ulster to date, is also set to remain at Kingspan Stadium until at least June 2023. The centre who is known as a combative, strong-running midfielder, has consistently performed for the province since joining the Ulster Academy in 2009. On the announcement of his extension, Marshall, said:

“I am happy to be staying on with Ulster as I feel we are building towards something special – especially with such an exciting young squad. It is a privilege to continue to represent my home province – and since my wife gave birth to our son three months ago, I am hopeful that he will be able to come and watch me play at Kingspan Stadium in the next couple of years.”

McFarland added: “Luke is one of our longest-serving players and brings an excellent ability to read the game and organise defences. I’m delighted that he’s committed to Ulster for a further two seasons, and we look forward to also seeing him back from injury soon.”

Lock, Alan O’Connor, is known both on and off the pitch for his leadership abilities with the 28-year-old recently captaining the province in the landmark win over Connacht at the Sportsground in December. Speaking of his contract renewal, O’Connor, said: 

“I’m delighted to have signed on with Ulster for another two years. I’m really looking forward to continuing this journey with a great group of lads – it’s been a great experience so far. We, as a team, have grown so much over the last couple of years and we will keep growing and improving – to be part of that is very exciting.”

McFarland added: “Al has been a vital member of our squad for some time now. He is a player who epitomises the competitiveness and bite we expect at Ulster. It is because of this he has earned the honour of captaining the team on many occasions.”

Completing today’s announcements is 20-year-old Aaron Sexton who, since entering the Ulster Academy system in the summer of 2019, has already made his mark – most recently through his involvement in the win against the Leinster ‘A’ side, which saw Sexton contribute two match-defining tries. 

The young player from Bangor will spend one year as a Development player, before being upgraded to a Senior Professional contract for the following season. Of the news, Sexton, said:

“It means a lot to me reaching this next step in my career, and I can’t thank everyone enough who helped get me to where I am. I’m really looking forward to working hard in the months ahead having had my first taste of senior rugby this year.” 

On the last of the signings to be announced today, Dan McFarland, said: “Aaron has put in some really encouraging performances for Ulster in recent Inter-provincial ‘A’ games and IRFU Academy Sevens tournaments by demonstrating his next level speed and try-scoring ability. He earned himself an opportunity at senior level against Edinburgh, which we hope is the first of many senior appearances for Aaron in the future.”

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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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