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2020-21 PRO14 Ulster Rugby

PRO14: Teams up for Ospreys v Ulster

Marcus Rea will make his first start for Ulster while his brother, Matthew, is set to make his 50th Ulster appearance as Dan McFarland makes four changes for the trip to Swansea.

Alan O’Connor replaces Sam Carter in the second row, Marcus Rea starts ahead of Sean Reidy and in the backline, Ian Madigan and Matt Faddes start at out half and right wing respectively.

It’s the same full strength front row from last week composed of Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and Marty Moore. Iain Henderson and O’Connor are the lock pairing while Matthew and Marcus Rea start in the six and seven jerseys respectively. Marcell Coetzee continues at eight.

Madigan joins John Cooney at half back while Dan keeps last week’s successful centre pairing of Stewart Moore and James Hume together. Rob Lyttle retains his spot on the left wing while Matt Faddes replaces Craig Gilroy on the right and Jacob Stockdale starts at fullback.

It’s the first time we’ll have seen Rea junior in the senior side his 60 minute match winning appearance off the bench against Leinster in 2018. He was exceptional on what was his debut and would have no doubt been involved last season had COVID not curtailed proceedings. While Marcus is celebrating his first start for Ulster, Matthew Rea will be celebrating his 50th appearance for the province since making his Ulster debut against Cheetahs in 2017.

With no out half cover on the bench, Ulster will be hoping Ian Madigan can go the full eighty, especially as they’ve included an extra forward, Sean Reidy, in the 23 jersey. Against Toulouse Ulster had a 6/2 split on the bench and that backfired massively with Stuart McCloskey and Billy Burns both picking up injuries and John Cooney finishing the match on the wing.

Ulster’s oppenents tonight are a resurgent Ospreys’s side. Under new coach Toby Booth, the Welsh region recorded an excellent 27-10 win at Edinburgh in the opening round of this season’s PRO14. Rhys Webb is an excellent signing and joins Stephen Myler at half back in a very experienced combination. Kieran Williams and Mat Protheroe had very good games last week with latter contributing two tries to the cause and the former providing one assist.

Last week, Paolo Garbisi and Ignacio Brex had joy with direct running fracturing the Ulster defence. Myler is a wily character and I think we’ll see more of this tonight. On the other hand, Ulster have Moore and Hume starting in the centres and both showed they are capable of carving open a defence.

Both sides have included their international stars; Justin Tipuric, Alun-Wyn Jones, Rhys Webb and Owen Watkin for the Ospreys and Iain Henderson, Marcell Coetzee, John Cooney and Jacob Stockdale for Ulster. I think this will be a very good game and a good advert for a league that is shorn of it’s international players for a lot of the season.

The FRU predicts: Ulster have had mixed success in Wales over the last couple of seasons. They succumbed to a poor defeat to Ospreys last season but won two of the three away matches the season before. This will be a bigger test than last week but is a match Ulster are very capable of winning. However, Ulster’s away form leaves some to be desired so I am tipping Ospreys to be the victors later on tonight..

OspreysUlster
Dan Evans15Jacob Stockdale
Mat Protheroe14Matt Faddes
Owen Watkin13James Hume
Kieran Williams12Stewart Moore
Luke Morgan11Rob Lyttle
Stephen Myler10Ian Madigan
Rhys Webb9John Cooney
Nicky Smith1Jack McGrath
Sam Parry2Rob Herring
Tom Botha3Marty Moore
Adam Beard4Alan O’Connor
Alun Wyn Jones5Iain Henderson
Olly Cracknell6Matthew Rea
Justin Tipuric7Marcus Rea
Morgan Morris8Marcell Coetzee
Dewi Lake16Adam McBurney
Rhodri Jones17Eric O’Sullivan
Ma’afu Fia18Gareth Milasinovich
Bradley Davies19Kieran Treadwell
Dan Lydiate20Greg Jones
Harri Morgan21Dave Shanahan
Josh Thomas22Louis Ludik
Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler23 Sean Reidy 

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