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Leinster Switch Players for Dragons Clash

Leinster have rotated several players for their PRO14 fixture against the Dragons tomorrow night with some welcome returns to the squad



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Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has named a much changed team for his side’s PRO14 game against the Dragons in the RDS tomorrow night.

Following last week’s 3-0 victory over Zebre in Italy Cullen has decided to switch things up to try and continue the blues winning start to the season. 

There are first starts for lock Ryan Baird and young fly-half Harry Byrne who has impressed so far this season. While Conor O’Brien makes his first start of the season in the centre in place of Joe Tomane. 

In the front-row Peter Dooley and Michael Bent continue to start but will have Ronan Kelleher alongside them this week, with Devin Toner captaining the side for only the second time in his 235 appearances in the second-row and has Baird beside him. 

Max Deegan is at blindside-flanker, with Scott Penny yet again at openside, as Caelan Doris comes in to finish the pack at No 8. 

Jamison Gibson-Park continues as the first-choice scrum-half, having Bryne as his half-back partner this week, with the duo having O’Brien and Rory O’Loughlin outside them in the midfield. 

James Lowe takes up his place on the left-wing, with Dave Kearney on the right and Jimmy O’Brien completes the starting line-up from full-back. 

There is a mix of experience and youth on the bench with the likes of James Tracy and Ross Malony joining possible debutant Jack Aungier among the replacements. There is also a welcome return for fly-half Ciaran Frawley who takes a spot in the dugout. 

Speaking ahead of the game Cullen is hoping that his side can use their home advantage to put in another impressive performance in front of their own crowd. 

“We’ve had two really good outings so far at the RDS, the players tend to feed off the energy they get from the crowd, so we’ll be hoping for something similar on Friday against Dragons,” he said.

Leinster are looking to make it five wins from five at the start of their 2019/20 PRO14 season, in what has been another impressive opening to a season. They will face a Dragons side that have claimed two wins from their opening four games but they will want to make another statement with a big win as they continue their quest to win a third title on the bounce. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

15. Jimmy O’Brien (10)

14. Dave Kearney (138)

13. Rory O’Loughlin (65)

12. Conor O’Brien (18)

11. James Lowe (32)

10. Harry Byrne (3)

9. Jamison Gibson-Park (74)

1. Peter Dooley (65)

2. Rónan Kelleher (5)

3. Michael Bent (128)

4. Devin Toner (234) (C)

5. Ryan Baird (2)

6. Max Deegan (50)

7. Scott Penny (8)

8. Caelan Doris (20)


16. James Tracy (96)

17. Michael Milne (4)

18. Jack Aungier (0)

19. Ross Molony (86)

20. Will Connors (7)

21. Hugh O’Sullivan (16)

22. Ciarán Frawley (14)

23. Cian Kelleher (8)


Ulster to welcome 1,000 fans for Scarlets clash



(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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Bad news on the injury front for Munster back-rower



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Munster medical department have issued the latest player update with Liam Coombes, John Hodnett and Alex McHenry all ruled out due to respective injuries.

The young trio sustained knocks in different training sessions and will not be available for this weekend’s clash.

Alex McHenry underwent surgery for a thumb injury and will not be available for the coming weeks, while Liam Coombes has sustained a minor hamstring injury.

Unfortunately, it is a longer-term outlook for John Hodnett who sustained an achilles tendon injury.  The Academy back row will undergo surgery early next week before commencing his rehabilitation programme.

A fourth player is already self-isolating after returning a positive test result from Monday’s PCR testing.  The player remains well, and no other players have been identified as close contacts.

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Rea to win 50th cap v Cardiff



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Matty Rea is set to make his 50th Ulster appearance in the Guinness PRO14 Round 4 clash against Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade on Monday (kick-off 6pm).

The 27-year-old Ballymena man made his Ulster debut against the Toyota Cheetahs in September 2017, and has already shown some excellent form this year when collecting the Player of the Match award in the season opener versus Benetton.

Rea will start at blindside flanker, with Jordi Murphy being retained at openside and Nick Timoney coming in to start at number eight. Adam McBurney will make his first start this season at hooker and is joined in the front row by Eric O’Sullivan – who scored his first Ulster try last week – and Marty Moore. Alan O’Connor retains his starting berth in the second row, and will be partnered with Kieran Treadwell, who is also making his first start this season.

Billy Burns will make his return from injury to captain the side at fly-half, alongside John Cooney – who has been released from the Ireland Six Nations squad – at scrum-half.

Burns is one of four changes to the back line, with Stuart McCloskey also being released from international duties to start alongside Stewart Moore in midfield. Michael Lowry comes in to start at full-back, and he will be joined on the wings by Louis Ludik and the returning Craig Gilroy.

Luke Marshall is set to make his return from injury to make his first appearance this season as he is included among the replacements. Alby Mathewson and Academy back three prospect Ethan McIlroy will cover the backline along with Marshall. John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Ross Kane, Sam Carter, and Sean Reidy provide the forward options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Cardiff Blues, Guinness PRO14 Round 4, Monday 2 November 2020, at Rodney Parade (kick-off 6pm, live on Premier Sports):  

Issued by Ulster Rugby

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