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Ulster v Leinster: Teams announced.

Lots of changes.

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster:

he Ulster team has been named for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Round 21 clash against reigning champions Leinster (Kingspan Stadium, 5.15pm).

Darren Cave, who will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season, will captain the side from outside centre.

Abbey Insurance Academy back row Marcus Rea will make his senior debut for the Province if he’s called upon from the bench, meaning it could be a special day for the Rea family, with brother Matty set to start.

David Busby, who suffered a long-term knee injury in pre-season, is in line to make his first appearance of the season. The utility back has previously played four games and scored a try on his debut against Zebre in February 2017.

Busby will be joined in the back three by Academy players Michael Lowry and Angus Kernohan, who have made a combined total of 30 appearances to date this season. Cave will partner Peter Nelson in midfield, with David Shanahan and Johnny McPhillips paired at half-back by the Ulster coaching team.

Andy Warwick, John Andrew and Ross Kane are selected in the front row, with Ian Nagle and Alan O’Connor ready to offer support from the second row. Matty Rea, Clive Ross and Sean Reidy complete the forward pack.

Tommy O’Hagan and Jack Owens could make just their second appearances after being named among the replacements alongside Marcus Rea. Adam McBurney, Tom O’Toole, Nick Timoney, Jonny Stewart and Rob Lyttle are the other options on the bench.

Leinster:

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby on Saturday at Kingspan Stadium in the final round of Guinness PRO14 regular season games has been announced by head coach Leo Cullen (KO 5.15pm, live on eir Sport, Premier Sports, DAZN).

Ross Byrne will captain the province for the first time, starting in a half-back partnership with Nick McCarthy.

Byrne made his Leinster debut back in September 2015, appearing off the bench against Edinburgh. He followed this up with his first start the following month against Scarlets.

The 24-year-old has gone on to make 68 appearances for the province to-date, scoring 368 points – the eighth highest tally of all-time for Leinster. Five points against Ulster on Saturday would see Byrne surpass Alan McGowan on Leinster’s all-time point scorers list.

Elsewhere in the back line, the experienced Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden are selected on the wings with Jimmy O’Brien at full-back completing the back three.

Noel Reid and Joe Tomane are Leinster’s starting centre partnership for Saturday’s game in Belfast.

Jack McGrath, Bryan Byrne and Michael Bent have been selected in the Leinster front row.

Oisín Dowling will make his first senior start alongside Josh Murphy in the second row.

Will Connors continues his return from an ACL injury to start in the back row along with Max Deegan and Caelan Doris, who both came off the bench in last Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final victory over Toulouse.

Ryan Baird, who made two appearances for Ireland U20 in their recent Six Nations Grand Slam-winning campaign, could make his senior debut from the bench. He will become the 57th player used by Cullen this season should he be called upon.


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Match Report: Vodacom Bulls 28-14 Connacht

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Another tough day at the office for Connacht after a disappointing 28-14 defeat to the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

It’s a third defeat in-a-row for the Western province, having already lost their opening two matches which were both away to Ulster and the defending BKT URC Champions Stormers.

Coming up against the Bulls was always going to be a tough test and the home side looked to show their power early but were denied by the TMO after mauling over the try line where Johan Grobbelaar’s try was ruled out.

Not long after though, Connacht looked to attack and stretch the home sides defence but there was one pass too many when John Porch under pressure by Canan Moodie tried to set Oran McNulty off only for the ball to be misplaced, ending up with Bulls full-back Kurt-Lee Arendse who ran from his own half where no one could catch him from scoring the opening try.

The Bulls widened their advantage on the ten minute mark, second-row Walt Steenkamp powered his way to an inch of the try line where scrum-half Zak Burger finished off to make it Bulls 14-0 Connacht.

As the game went on Connacht started to get their hands more on the ball but couldn’t find a break through with some errors creeping into their game as they looked to claw back the lead.

Nearing 20 minutes on the clock, the Bulls were reduced to 14-men when Marco van Staden was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle. Despite having the extra man Connacht couldn’t make the numbers count.

Connacht showed plenty of glimpses of what they can do but the Bulls defence were ready to suffocate any danger that came their way.

The half came to an end with the Bulls getting their third try of the game, Marcell Coetzee bashing his way over the line, Goosen adding the extra two points to leave it 21-0 at the break.

Connacht showed a lot more promise and composure on the ball in the second forty but it was the Bulls who got the opening score of the half when Connacht were turned over. From the attack, second-row Ruan Nortje punched through a gap in the Connacht defence where he released Burger for his second try of the game. Another conversion by Goosen made it 28-0.

As the half went on the home side saw two further yellow cards, a high tackle from Goosen on Kieran Marmion just after 50mins and then Jan-Hendrick Wessels for a late hit on David Hawkshaw in the 65th minute.

Playing with an extra man Connacht took advantage, tries from Jack Aungier, his second of the season which both came in South Africa. Aungier showed great strength to power over from close range. Hawkshaw converted with ten minutes to go.

Hawkshaw making his first start for the club got his own try when blocking down Chris Smith’s attempted clearance, he gathered the loose ball before going under the posts. The conversion made it 28-14 to the home team which would be the final result.

Up next for Connacht is a massive Interprovincial-derby at home to Munster.

Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby


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Dweba on DHL Stormers debut against Edinburgh

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Springbok hooker Joseph Dweba will make his DHL Stormers debut in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh at DHL Stadium on Saturday.

Dweba’s inclusion is one of six changes to the team for the encounter with the Scottish outfit, which kicks off at 14h00 on Saturday. CLICK HERE to buy your match tickets now.

His fellow Springboks Damian Willemse, Deon Fourie and Salmaan Moerat all come straight into the starting line-up, with Herschel Jantjies among the replacements and Marvin Orie taking the captaincy.

There are two positional switches in the backline, with Dan du Plessis at outside centre and Suleiman Hartzenberg shifting to the wing in place of the injured Seabelo Senatla, while up front Neethling Fouche comes in at tighthead prop.

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that the team is looking forward to their first match at DHL Stadium since the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final last season.

“It is great to have a few of our top players back from national duty and they have all slotted in seamlessly this week.

“We are all looking forward to getting out there at DHL Stadium in an early game which should be a great occasion for everyone,” he said.

DHL Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Sacha Mngomezulu.

Content & Images from – Stormers Rugby


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Reed to start clash with Sharks

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Fly half Will Reed will make his first appearance of the season when Dragons RFC face Cell C Sharks in the BKT United Rugby Championship at Rodney Parade on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm).

The Men of Gwent make a total of three changes to the side that defeated Munster Rugby in the first game of the season on home soil last weekend.

Reed is the only change to the back line, with JJ Hanrahan ruled out of the game as a precaution after picking up a knock in training. Hanrahan is expected to be fit for Round 4.

Lock Ben Carter is recalled to partner captain Will Rowlands in the second row. Carter’s return sees George Nott move into the back row to occupy the blindside flanker jersey.

The final change is a first start of the season for Wales international hooker Elliot Dee, with Bradley Roberts moving to the bench.

The return of lock Joe Davies is the only other change among the replacements.

Head Coach Dai Flanagan said: “Sharks will be physical and there is a lot of quality in their side. We need to make sure we match the physicality they bring and stay true to ourselves.

“It was a big result and performance by us against Munster last time out. Now we must replicate it, match it and ensure we get better week by week.

“We need to step forward as a squad again and if we you stay true to ourselves, work hard, we’ll be in this fight together.”

Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien, Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson, Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt, Will Reed, Rhodri Williams; Aki Seiuli, Elliot Dee, Lloyd Fairbrother, Ben Carter, Will Rowlands (c), George Nott, Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Rob Evans, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, Aaron Wainwright, Lewis Jones, Max Clark, Jordan Williams.

Unavailable: Leon Brown (neck), Sam Davies (knee), Ollie Griffiths (back), JJ Hanrahan (knock), Rhodri Jones (calf), Harri Keddie (ankle), Aneurin Owen (hamstring).

Dragons RFC can confirm lock Huw Taylor and back row Lennon Greggains are set for loan spells in the English Championship.

Taylor, 26, has moved to Goldington Road to link-up with Bedford Blues while Greggains, 23, will have a spell with Hartpury University RFC to gain valuable game time.

Greggains joins team-mate Ellis Shipp, 25, who has been on loan at Hartpury this month. The hooker has started two of the club’s opening three league fixtures.

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby


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