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Leinster and Ulster Ring the Changes for Belfast Clash

Leinster and Ulster have named a number of changes to their teams for Saturday’s Pro 14 fixture



Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster and Ulster will send out experimental sides when the two face off in their inter-provincial match at the Kingspan Stadium at 17 15.

Both teams are already guaranteed of a play-off spot and are allowing players a chance to play before the big games in what is the final regular season match.

Jack McGrath, Byran Byrne and Michael Bent all start in the front-row for Leinster. McGrath will be looking to impress ahead of his summer move to Ulster and force his way into Leo Cullen’s thoughts for a spot in the squad for the final fixtures of the season.

Josh Murphy is joined by debutant Oisin Dowling in the engine room, with Max Deegan, Will Conors and Caelan Doris slotting in behind in the back-row.

Nick McCarthy starts alongside Ross Byrne in the half-backs, with Byrne captaining the side.

Leicester-bound Noel Reid opens the game at inside centre beside Joe Tomane at outside-centre. The experienced duo of Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden begin on the wings, with Jimmy O’Brien at 15. There is power on the bench for the visiting side with the likes of Peter Dooley, Scott Penny, Ciaran Frawley and Barry Daly among the subs.

Ulster have changed their entire XV that saw off Edinburgh a couple of week’s ago.

Andy Warwick, John Andrew and Ross Kane are picked to lead from the front, with Ian Nagle and Alan O’Connor coming in to occupy the lock positions.

Matty Rea, Clive Ross and Sean Reidy are at six, seven and eight respectively to finish the pack.

Dave Shanahan and Johnny McPhillips begin the game at scrum-half and out-half, while Peter Nelson partners Darren Cave who captains the side before his retirement in the summer.

Angus Kernohan and David Busby are on the left and right wings, as Michael Lowry comes in at full-back.

Nick Timoney and Rob Lyttle are the only two players that retain places in the squad from the Edinburgh win and are named among an otherwise inexperienced bench.

Ulster will be looking to build momentum before next weeks quarter-final showdown with rivals Connacht having already secured second-place in Conference B. On the other hand, Leinster have been able to rest the majority players that defeated Toulouse in the Champions Cup last weekend as they have an eye on retaining their Pro 14 and Champions Cup crowns.

Check out the highlights below from the last Pro14 Fixture between Ulster & Leinster back in Round 13:


Narraway targets big away day display



Forwards Coach Luke Narraway has challenged Dragons to transfer two powerful performances on home soil on the road as they prepare to travel to Italy this weekend.

The Men of Gwent have impressed at Rodney Parade over the last two weekends as they defeated Munster before being narrowly edged out by the Cell C Sharks in the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Narraway has been delighted by the way the squad has evoked the ‘Rodney Parade spirit’ with two games played out to a vocal home support.

But now he acknowledges the task is to take that away from Newport and produce the same emotional and physical display.

“We spoke before the Munster game about getting back to performances at Rodney Parade of yesteryear,” he said.

“The Rodney Parade that I remember coming to was a horrible place to come to, it was a hard-fought game and teams didn’t relish coming to Newport.

“We let that slip last year and it was about performances and rekindling that Rodney Parade spirit, getting the fans involved and making sure that they were proud of our performance.

“Obviously it would have been nice to cross the line against Sharks and get that one through, but I was still tremendously proud of the performance.

“It’s now about matching that performance away from home.

“We’ve got two games away and where emotional levels were good at home, we need to make sure that stays in surroundings that we’re obviously not known to.

“That’s the message this week, we’re going out there to build on those two home games and hopefully see what we can get from them.”

One player who will miss the game in Italy is captain Will Rowlands.

The Wales international, who impressed in all three Tests against the Springboks last summer, started against Edinburgh, Munster and the Sharks.

“Will played a lot of rugby over the summer and we looked after him in pre-season,” said Narraway.

“We got him in at the start of the season and he has been outstanding.

“We will look this week to let him recharge the batteries and we have a fantastic number of options to call upon in the second row.

“Will gets time to regenerate and it gives opportunities to others in an area where we are blessed.”

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby

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Los Pumas star Boffelli returns for Lions test



The Los Pumas star makes his first Edinburgh appearance of the 22/23 season – having enjoyed an impressive Rugby Championship campaign, notching up 20 points in August’s stunning win against the All Blacks, while playing a key role in Argentina’s summer series victory against Scotland – and is selected on the wing as one of eight changes named by Head Coach Mike Blair.

Matt Currie (outside centre) makes his first start of the season in place of the injured Mark Bennett while Henry Pyrgos gets the nod at scrum-half as Ben Vellacott misses out having picking up a knock in training.

A new front-row combination of Boan Venter (loosehead) and Luan de Bruin (tighthead) start as Glen Young (lock) comes into the second-row.

Luke Crosbie (blindside flanker) and Viliame Mata (number 8) are both fit again and return to the back-row in place of injured duo Jamie Ritchie and Nick Haining.

Edinburgh Rugby will once again celebrate ‘club appreciation night’ which will see the squad pull on the socks of their boyhood/local clubs to recognise the importance of the wider grassroots game, with the players’ chosen clubs listed on the team line-up below.

Head Coach Mike Blair said: “We’re excited to be back home after a two-week tour and the squad are really looking forward to Friday night lights in front of the Edinburgh supporters – it’s always a special experience playing under the lights and we’re anticipating a brilliant atmosphere.

“It’s the second season of celebrating ‘club appreciation night’ and it’s something that definitely adds that extra bit of motivation for the squad. We’re proud to represent our grassroots clubs and it’s important we recognise those local teams that do so much to support us on a weekly basis.

“We’ve made a number of changes to the starting line-up and we’re excited to see guys get their opportunity for what will be a really tough match-up. Emirates Lions come into the game having won two straight in Wales, so we’ll have to be at our very best come kick-off tomorrow night.”

Henry Immelman continues at full-back as Bofelli and Darcy Graham are selected on opposite wings.

Academy graduate Currie links up with James Lang (inside centre) in midfield as Pygros and Blair Kinghorn (stand-off) combine at half-back.

Scotland internationalist Stuart McInally continues at hooker as club co-captain Grant Gilchrist retains his place in the second-row alongside Young.

Scotland and British and Irish Lions back-row Hamish Watson once again starts at openside flanker as Crosbie and Mata complete the pack.


Edinburgh Rugby team to face Emirates Lions at DAM Health Stadium in the United Rugby Championship
Friday 7 October (kick-off 7.35pm) – live on Premier Sports

15. Henry Immelman (Portobello RFC) (19)

14. Darcy Graham (Hawick RFC) (53)
13. Matt Currie (Dumfries / Merchiston Castle) (13)
12. James Lang (RGC Rygbi Gogledd Cymru) (22)
11. Emiliano Boffelli (Inverleith RFC) (18)

10. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Accies) (121) VICE-CAPTAIN
9. Henry Pyrgos (Leith RFC) (73)

1. Boan Venter (Leith RFC) (28)
2. Stuart McInally (Watsonians) (168) VICE-CAPTAIN
3. Luan de Bruin (Corstorphine Cougars) (10)
4. Glen Young (Jed-Forest RFC) (14)
5. Grant Gilchrist (Alloa RFC) (178) CAPTAIN
6. Luke Crosbie (Livingston RFC / Currie Chieftains) (71)
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Accies) (133)
8. Viliame Mata (Trinity RFC) (97)


16. Dave Cherry (Mull RFC / Merchiston Castle) (60)
17. Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Accies) (86)
18. WP Nel (Watsonians) (174)
19. Marshall Sykes (Ayr RFC) (25)
20. Ben Muncaster (North Berwick RFC) (17)
21. Charlie Shiel (Currie Chieftains / Royal High) (45)
22. Charlie Savala (Ayr RFC) (14)
23. Chris Dean (North Berwick RFC / Edinburgh Accies) (123)

Unavailable: Mark Bennett, Conor Boyle, Wes Goosen, Nick Haining, Jamie Ritchie, Ben Vellacott.

Content & Images from – Edinburgh Rugby

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Fly half Davies set for playing return



Fly half Sam Davies is in contention for his first action of the season – but lock George Nott and wing Ashton Hewitt will miss the trip to Italy.

Davies has not yet featured in the BKT United Rugby Championship season after picking up a knee knock in pre-season.

However, the 29-year-old is back and knocking on the door of a major milestone with 498 points for Dragons.

“Sam is back,” said Forwards Coach, Luke Narraway.

“He has been working very hard in the background. Last week was probably too early for him, but he has had a couple of weeks of full training and is ready to go.

“JJ (Hanarahan) is also back in contention while Will (Reed) we won’t take any risks with after what happened in the Sharks game.”

Meanwhile, forward George Nott is set for a spell on the sidelines after suffering a hand injury.

Nott – who can play lock or back row – has made an impressive start to his career with the Men of Gwent after featuring in home games with Munster and Cell C Sharks.

However, the 26-year-old sustained a tendon injury in the defeat to the Sharks and is ruled out of the game with Benetton this weekend.

Wing Ashton Hewitt will also miss the BKT United Rugby Championship trip to Italy after picking up an ankle injury.

“George has a tendon injury to his finger, so he won’t be available this weekend,” added Naraway. “I’m not sure of the extent of it, but he won’t travel to Italy.

“It was one of those innocuous ones when his finger has got caught in a jersey.

“It wasn’t too painful, but obviously we need to look at how we get that tendon fixed.

“Ashton is a little sore and the early signs are promising. This weekend will come too soon for him. We will wait for further clarification on him.”

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby

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