Dan McFarland has made two changes for Ulster’s return fixture against Harlequins tomorrow night at Twickenham Stoop.
Kieran Treadwell replaces Alan O’Connor in the second row while Matt Faddes comes onto the right wing ahead of Craig Gilroy. Both O’Connor and Gilroy are retained in the 23 and find themselves on the bench.
A fourth win from four matches in Europe would make qualification more than likely especially with a home game against the bottom side to come in round six.
Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Marty Moore form Ulster’s front row while Treadwell starts alongside Iain Henderson at lock. Despite only pinching one lineout on Saturday, Ulster had the Harlequins lineout sussed and made it very difficult for Danny Care to get front foot set piece ball for the backs. The back row picks itself – Marcell Coetzee is flanked by Sean Reidy and Jordi Murphy.
Arguably the form halfbacks in Ireland, John Cooney and Billy Burns link up for the seventh time this season. Stuart McCloskey retains his jersey after a man of the match performance at Kingspan while Luke Marshall is his partner at 13. Jacob Stockdale remains at fullback with Faddes and Louis Ludik on the wings.
I’m surprised Matt Faddes has not played more of a part in Europe this season but he gets his chance tomorrow night up against England U20 international Caden Murley. Despite scoring four times this season, Faddes perhaps hasn’t had the start to his Ulster career that some expected. Though we did see what he’s capable of with a quick burst in his seven minute cameo on Saturday.
Despite losing two games and still being in with a shout of finishing second in the group, Paul Gustard has rested a number of key players. Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, Marcus Smith and Gabriel Ibitoye are left out of the squad. I think this is an admission that their priorities are elsewhere as they sit six points off 11th placed Leicester in the Premiership.
Alex Dombrandt and Elia Elia have been retained after their excellent performances and Dombrandt’s battle with Marcell Coetzee will be an intriguing tussle. Harlequins had a strong scrum against Ulster last week with Kyle Sinckler getting some joy out of Eric O’Sullivan. With Garcia Botta included this will be an area that they will target.
The most important thing for Ulster is to not worry about Clermont. They are more than likely to record a four-try win over Bath at home which will leave them on 16 points after four matches – the same that Ulster will be on if they defeat Harlequins without a bonus point.
Similar to last week, it will be a tough outing but it’s one that Ulster should be confident of getting a result in. Currently in a rich vein of form, Dan McFarland’s men have been playing some decent rugby in recent weeks but crucially have been getting results.
The FRU predicts: Ulster haven’t lost in the back to back fixtures in two seasons and I can see them making it a third on the trot. Another nail biter is in store but one that I think Ulster will win.
|Ross Chisholm||15||Jacob Stockdale|
|Vereniki Goneva||14||Matt Faddes|
|James Lang||13||Luke Marshall|
|Francis Saili||12||Stuart McCloskey|
|Cadan Murley||11||Louis Ludik|
|Brett Herron||10||Billy Burns|
|Martin Landajo||9||John Cooney|
|Santiago Garcia Botta||1||Eric O’Sullivan|
|Elia Elia||2||Rob Herring|
|Kyle Sinckler||3||Marty Moore|
|Stephan Lewies||4||Kieran Treadwell|
|Tevita Cavubati||5||Iain Henderson|
|William Evans||6||Sean Reidy|
|Semi Kunatani||7||Jordi Murphy|
|Alex Dombrandt||8||Marcell Coetzee|
|Jack Musk||16||Adam McBurney|
|Nick Auterac||17||Andrew Warwick|
|Simon Kerrod||18||Tom O’Toole|
|Dino Lamb||19||Alan O’Connor|
|James Chisholm||20||Matthew Rea|
|Niall Saunders||21||Dave Shanahan|
|Paul Lasike||22||Bill Johnston|
|Travis Ismaiel||23||Craig Gilroy|