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Pro14

McFarland’s Men Produce Inspired Performance to Secure Home Play-Off

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images


A committed display by Ulster on Friday saw them overwhelm the hosts, Edinburgh, to secure a bonus point win and book a home play-off game in the knock-out stages of the Guinness Pro14.

McFarland acknowledged that his side’s disappointment following last weekend’s away defeat to Glasgow served as motivation ahead of Friday night’s important clash with Edinburgh.

“We had a big debrief on Monday, there was a bit of misery and a lot of humble pie, which was deserved. We came out, took what we could learn from it and moved on.”

Indeed, Ulster’s coach attributes his side’s focused and fierce performance as the product of hard work and mental preparation in the week preceding Friday’s must-win game.

“We knew we had a massive task this week, to come to our fellow Champions Cup quarter-finalists and win. In the end, the bonus point was a testament to the hard work and the mentality of the guys during the week and what they put on the pitch against a really good Edinburgh team.”

McFarland also highlighted the improvement made in Ulster’s set-piece which provided his side with a solid platform from which to attack.

“We were a bit messy last week around our set-piece but there was a big improvement. We did a lot of work on the scrum in the week. We knew that was going to be titanic — it was not going to win the game for us but could certainly lose the game if we let Edinburgh get on top of us.”

“We also needed possession. Last week, it did not look good, but we did play some really good rugby. The bottom line is that when you lose a lot of lineouts, as we did then, you cannot get a foothold in the game. In this game, we were consistently able to get a foothold.”

Ulster’s pack was bolstered by the return of man-of-the-match Iain Henderson, who put in a typically powerful and aggressive performance, helping the Ulster pack to dominate.

Ulster’s power up-front was matched by the ruthless finishing of Ulster’s young wingers, Rob Lyttle and Robert Baloucoune who both took their tries well.

McFarland praised his team’s performance, noting that the pride and purpose Ulster played with on Friday night signals a growing confidence in the squad.

“It is really important for the club, we are a team that wants consistently to compete for championships and to do that, you have to be in play-offs.

“There is the dual aspect of also getting Champions Cup qualification, which is done now. That is very important as well.”

Ulster’s big-game nous saw them in control and dominant in every department for most of the game. McFarland will hope his side are able to recreate this formidable form in their remaining important games this season – a challenge the squad will relish.

“We enjoyed the preparation for our Champions Cup quarter-final and we’ll enjoy preparing for a PRO14 quarter-final.”

Ulster will now focus their preparations on a huge game against Connacht in the quarter final of the Guinness Pro14 at the Kingspan stadium on 3-4 May.

Match Highlights:

6 Nations

Scarlets provide updates on Williams & Owens

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(Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Liam Williams has recovered from a foot injury that has prevented him playing for the Scarlets so far this season. He has been released from the Wales squad to train with the Scarlets ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Benetton.

Ken Owens has undergone surgery on the shoulder injury he sustained against Glasgow and it is expected he will be unavailable for three to four months.

Josh Macleod has started his rehabilitation for a hamstring injury sustained against Glasgow. He will be targeting a return to play in December.

Scarlets also confirmed that Sam Lousi has been banned for a period of four weeks as a result of his red card in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Glasgow Warriors.

Lousi was shown a red card by referee Frank Murphy (IRFU) under Law 9.13 – a Player must not tackle an opponent early, late, or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling, or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulder even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.

The disciplinary hearing was handled by Roddy Dunlop (Scotland) and it was accepted that the player’s actions warranted a red card for foul play. The incident was deemed a mid-range offence, which carries a six-week suspension.

Due to the player’s previous disciplinary record (red card for punching incident, February 2020) the judicial officer could not offer full mitigation therefore, resulting in a four-week suspension.

Lousi is free to resume playing from midnight on November 9, 2020

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Pro14

Marcus Rea to start for Ulster v Ospreys

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Marcus Rea will make his first start for Ulster on Saturday evening, in the Guinness PRO14 Round 2 trip to play Ospreys at Liberty Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm). 

The 23-year-old – who was Player of the Match in his sole previous Ulster appearance as a replacement against Leinster in April 2019 – has been named at openside flanker. Marcus’s older brother Matty – Player of the Match in last weekend’s bonus point win over Benetton – is named alongside him at blindside, with Marcell Coetzee once again packing down at number eight. 

Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and Marty Moore have been given the front row starting berths, and Alan O’Connor has been selected along with captain Iain Henderson in the second row. 

Matt Faddes returns to the starting side on the right wing and will join Jacob Stockdale at full-back and Rob Lyttle on the left wing. Last week’s midfield duo of Stewart Moore and James Hume has been retained. Ian Madigan comes in to start at fly-half, pairing with John Cooney at scrum-half. 

The coaching team has opted for a 6-2 bench split. Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones and Sean Reidy provide the forward options, with David Shanahan and Louis Ludik offering back line cover.  

Ulster team to play Ospreys Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 2, Saturday 10 October 2020, at Liberty Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm, live on Premier Sports):   

(15-9) Jacob Stockdale, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Ian Madigan, John Cooney.  (1-8) Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.) , Matthew Rea, Marcus Rea, Marcell Coetzee.  Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones, David Shanahan, Louis Ludik, Sean Reidy. 

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Pro14

Munster confirm COVID-19 case. Training suspended.

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby have been assisting a senior player who has tested positive for Covid-19.

The latest PCR testing carried out on Monday at the HPC has returned a positive result for a player who is asymptomatic. To remove any doubt of a potential false positive the player will be retested tomorrow.
The individual, who was not part of the travelling group at the weekend, and six other players identified by Munster Rugby as potential close contacts, are currently self-isolating.

This approach of identifying possible close contacts is in line with the caution we have taken to this issue, these players may not be deemed close contacts by the HSE.

As a precautionary measure, the squad and academy will not train at the HPC today.
The HSE have been notified for contract tracing purposes.

Further PCR testing will take place tomorrow at the HPC with a return to scheduled training planned for Thursday ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 encounter against Edinburgh at Thomond Park.

Munster Rugby Head of Medical, Dr Jamie Kearns, said: “As an immediacy we are taking every precaution by standing down training today.

“We are going to complete another round of PCR testing tomorrow so that we can return to training on Thursday.

“Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff, and we will continue to work closely with both the IRFU and HSE in this regard.”

Statement from Munster Rugby

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