The Irish province will be looking for revenge after falling to a 23-21 loss to the Scarlets at the start of the season. With both teams missing key players due to 6 Nations duties other players have been given the chance to shine.
Rob Kearney captains Leinster from full-back, looking to prove his fitness to Joe Schmidt before Ireland’s opening game against England next Saturday.
He is joined in the back three by Barry Daly and James Lowe who returns from his three-match suspension he received after a red card against Munster.
Rory O’Loughlin and Conor O’Brien start in the centre with the latter looking to continue his recent rise for the blues. Ciaran Frawley will be at No 10, joined by Hugh O’Sullivan in the half-backs, who makes his first start for Leinster.
Cullen has named a strong pack with Jack McGrath, James Tracy, and Michael Bent in the front-row. They are joined by Ross Molony and Mick Kearney in the second-row. While Max Deegan, Scott Penny, and Caelan Doris slot into the back-row.
Leinster have strength on the bench where the likes of Bryan Byrne, Ed Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park and Noel Reid available to be called on. With Jack Dunne ready to come on to make his debut.
On the Scarlets side, Jake Ball has the same opportunity as Kearney to prove his fitness before the opening matches of the 6 Nations.
They also name Johnny McNicholl at full-back, a player Leinster know all too well after his hat-trick in last seasons final.
With 11 players getting an international call, the rest of the Scarlets team is relatively new with only five remaining from last weekend’s loss to Racing 92.
Along with McNicholl, the survivors are Dan Jones, David Bulbring, Dan Davis and Josh Macleod.
Team Announcement | Cyhoeddiad Tîm— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) January 24, 2019
Here's the team heading to Dublin to face @leinsterrugby tomorrow evening⬇️
Dyma'r tîm sy'n teithio i Ddulyn i wynebu Leinster nos yfory ⬇️#inthepack #ynypac pic.twitter.com/Z9r3UBoerE
Both sides are aware of the opportunity the international break gives to players with Scarlets coach Wayne Pivoc noting that the game will be good for both sets of players.
“When their internationals are away, they get excited like our guys do, so we’re expecting a very stern test,” he said.
While returning Leinster winger Lowe pointed towards the threat the Scarlets pose going forward.
“It’s an exciting challenge,” he said when asked how he felt about facing them, “Scarlets are a very very good attacking team,” he added.
Leinster are currently top of conference B, 19 points ahead of Edinburgh and 20 above their opponents on Friday. Both teams will be looking to impress while the regular starters are away and will be hoping to kick-off the international break with a win.
Ulster Youngster commits for 3 Years.
Rob Lyttle signs 3-year contract extension
Ulster Rugby wing, Rob Lyttle, has committed his future to the province for a further three years, keeping him at Kingspan Stadium until at least 2023.
The Donaghcloney native played mini rugby at Dromore RFC before attending RBAI, where he featured in the 2013 Danske Bank Schools’ Cup Final as a 5th year.
A product of the Abbey Insurance Ulster Rugby Academy, Rob made a memorable Ulster senior debut in September 2016 with two tries against Dragons, and has developed a knack for finding the try line ever since, touching down 11 times in his 27 appearances to date.
Commenting on the contract extension, Ulster Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said, “It is great news for the club and our supporters that Rob has become the latest young talent to commit his future to Ulster.
“Rob is another great example of a home grown player who has been developed through the club and schools system in Ulster, before refining his game through our performance pathway and going on to represent the club with distinction at professional level.
“The back three is an area where we have a good mix of seasoned experience and exciting young prospects, so I’m looking forward to watching Rob continue to develop his game and also drive the standards of those around him in challenging for places.”
Lyttle said of the deal,
“I have grown up supporting Ulster, and I have relished the opportunity to represent my home province, so it was an easy decision for me to commit my future here. I believe Ulster are building something special and I’m really excited about playing a part in the club’s future.”
Press Release from Ulster Rugby
Leinster Smash Connacht for Another Win
Leinster have continued their winning start to the season with another fantastic performance, this time away to Connacht
A brace of tries from front-rowers Andrew Porter and Ronan Kelleher along with a scores from Ross Byrne and James Lowe saw the reigning champions ease to victory over their western rivals.
The hosts got off to the perfect start, taking the lead four minutes in as returning Irish international Jack Carty knocked over a penalty to make it 3-0.
However, their lead was short lived as one of Leinster’s returning stars Porter barrelled over from close range to put the boys in blue ahead. Byrne made no mistake adding the extras to make it 7-3.
Just before the quarter-hour mark and the away side were further ahead as they camped in the Connacht 22 before hooker Kelleher finished off some great work from a line-out. Byrne slotted over the conversion to push Leinster 14-3 ahead.
Connacht cut into the lead straight after the restart through the boot of Darragh Leader who kicked their second penalty of the game.
Although their fight-back was shut down right away by Leinster, who again showed their forward power as Kelleher went over with the help of captain Scott Fardy for his second try of the night off another line-out. Byrne made it three from three from the tee to extend the lead once again.
It took only another ten minutes for Leinster to secure the bonus-point as Porter went over for his second try of the game after a TMO check. Byrne knocked over another two-points to give Leinster a 28-6 advantage at the half-hour mark.
On 34 minutes things got even better for the eastern province as Byrne added to his personal tally with a lovely five-pointer of his own, slicing through the defence with a fake-pass before touching down. He converted his own try to stretch the score out to 35-6, which is how it stayed come the half-time whistle.
Both teams came out of the blocks quickly in the second period but it was Connacht who struck first as Carty sent a cross-field kick over to Stephen Fitzgerald on the left-wing and the winger did the rest, racing over for his side’s first try of the game. Carty couldn’t add the extras but it showed great spirit from the hosts.
Leinster put pressure on Connacht over the next 20 minutes, remaining in the opposition 22 for most of it, but they couldn’t find a way over. However, that changed with little over 10 minutes remaining as Lowe intercepted a pass inside his own half and darted to the try-line for his side’s sixth try. Bryne continued his 100% kicking-rate from the tee adding the simple extras in front of the posts.
Connacht tried to get another consolation try but they couldn’t break through a solid Leinster defence as it finished up 42-11.
The win means Leinster remain top of Conference A with 29-points out of a possible 30 at the start of the season, while the loss will be a big disappointment for the hosts who went into the game in good form. Leinster will host Benetton next Saturday in the opening round of this season’s Champions Cup, while Connacht welcome French Top 14 side Montpellier to the Sportsground on the Sunday.
Leinster Player Ratings
Hugo Keenan (7), Adam Byrne (7), Jimmy O’Brien (8), Joe Tomane (7), James Lowe (8), Ross Byrne (9), Luke McGrath (7); Cian Healy (8), Ronan Kelleher (9), Andrew Porter (9), Devin Toner (7), Scott Fardy (7), Josh Murphy (7), Will Connors (8), Max Deegan (8)
Munster v Ulster | Team News
Peter O’Mahony captains Munster with eight of Munster’s Rugby World Cup contingent set to feature at Thomond Park.
Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Jean Kleyn, O’Mahony and CJ Stander all start with Conor Murray among the replacements.
JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson and Chris Cloete keep their places in the side after helping Munster to a bonus-point win away to Cardiff Blues last week as Munster make 12 changes.
Academy winger Liam Coombes makes his second Munster start with Mike Haley and Conway completing the back three.
Mathewson and Hanrahan continue their half-back partnership with Rory Scannell and Farrell in the centres.
James Cronin, Scannell and Ryan pack down in the front row with Kleyn and Billy Holland in the engine room.
O’Mahony, Cloete and Stander are named in the back row.
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; James Cronin, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Arno Botha.
Dan McFarland has switched things up with seven changes from the side that defeated Zebre last Friday, Irish internationals Jacob Stockdale and Jordi Murphy will make their first appearances this season.
In the back three, Matt Faddes switches to full-back and is joined by the returning Stockdale and Rob Lyttle on the left and right wings respectively.
Stuart McCloskey is re-called to join last week’s Man-of-the-Match, Luke Marshall in midfield. Angus Curtis will make his first start for Ulster this season at fly-half and is joined by John Cooney at scrum-half, who made his 50th appearance last time out against Zebre.
Among the four changes in the forwards, Marty Moore returns to make his first start of the season at tighthead, joining Jack McGrath at loosehead and captain Rob Herring to make up an all international front row. Sam Carter comes back in to join Alan O’Connor in the second row.
Joining Murphy will be Sean Reidy at blindside, and Nick Timoney switches to assume the number eight position, completing the back row.
In the replacements, Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Matthew Rea will provide forward cover. David Shanahan, Bill Johnston and Robert Baloucoune – who is also set to make his seasonal bow – make up the back-line reinforcements.
Ulster team to play Munster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 6, Saturday 9 November at Thomond Park (kick-off 5:15pm):
(15-9) Matt Faddes, Rob Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Angus Curtis, John Cooney.
(1-8) Jack McGrath, Rob Herring (Capt.), Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney.
Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, David Shanahan, Bill Johnston, Robert Baloucoune.
Did you know?
Munster are unbeaten in their last 24 home games in all tournaments
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU, 28th competition game)Assistant Referees: Rob O’Sullivan (IRFU), Paul Haycock (IRFU)TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)
Live on eir sport 1, Premier Sport 2, DAZN, PRO14.tv.
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