Despite losing to Munster A at Shawsbridge on Friday evening, Ulster A ended up stumbling into the Celtic Cup final by virtue of Leinster A beating Connacht Eagles earlier on Friday afternoon.
The final, against Leinster A, will be held at Energia Park (Donnybrook) on Sunday 13th October with a 15:00 kick off.
It was far from the end of the league campaign that we were looking for as Munster A dominated most aspects of the game but Ulster A are where they wanted to be at the start of this competition and they have one more game to rediscover their mojo and show us the exciting play that they stated this tournament with.
The results from the final round of league play are below:
|Connacht A||14 (2)||43 (7)||Leinster A|
|Ulster A||12 (2)||31 (4)||Munster A|
|Cardiff A||12 (2)||16 (1)||Scarlets A|
|Dragons A||36 (4)||24 (4)||Ospreys A|
Which gives the following final table (to the best of our knowledge):
|Cardiff Blues A||7||1||0||(116)||3||7|
Job done, but not the greatest of finishes to their league campaign. We’ve had out grumbles about parachuting in players who have played for the senior side for a few games, in order to give the senior players game time, and in my opinion it hasn’t helped.
It’s been a case of the disruption to the team dynamic being greater than the individual contribution of the senior players in my opinion but I suppose the players on the fringes of the senior team have to get some game time somewhere?
Friday night’s defeat was a case in point. It was a worthy enough display from the young Munster side but Ulster weren’t at the races, their tries by David McCann and Graham Curtis coming against the run of play. Bruce Houston added a conversion but that was it for Ulster as Munster ran in three second half tries without reply.
All this gives the Ulster A scorers to date as follows.
With McCann now joining Peter Cooper and Ross Adair on five tries each, which player ends up as the leading try scorer is perhaps the most exciting question to be answered in the final.
Certainly there will be few outside of the Ulster camp giving them a chance against what looks like an invincible Leinster side and the stats would point to a 25 points plus winning margin for the D4 youngsters.
However, I can’t help but think back to Ulster ‘s early season form and, if they can rediscover that, they do have an outside chance. Much changed sides since the early season outings, but Ulster are still edging this series 2 – 1 at the minute.
Ulster A have named 36 players in their squads throughout the league campaign and in my opinion that was five too many!
The players named as starters and replacements are shown below, in order of squad inclusions.
From what we’ve seen of the matches and from the individual players win % we’ve picked our FRU Winning-est Team for the final and here’s how we think they should line up on Sunday afternoon for the final.
THE FRU WINNING-EST TEAM: Conor Rankin, Ethan McIlroy, Ross Adair, Hayden Hyde, Graham Curtis, Bruce Houston, Nathan Doak, Callum Reid, Tom Stewart, Peter Cooper, Matthew Dalton, Jack Regan, Joe Dunleavy, David McCann, Azur Allison. Replacements: Zack McCall, Tommy O’Hagan, Paul Mullen, JJ McKee, Matthew Agnew, Lewis Finlay, Ben Power, Luke Pollock