PRO14: Teams up for Cardiff v Ulster

Published Categorised as 2020-21, Cardiff Blues, PRO14, Provincial Rugby Men, Ulster Rugby Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Luke Marshall makes a welcome return to the Ulster Squad.

It’s been a while since I’ve had to do an Ulster match preview as I’ve been concentrating on our Club and Schools output in recent seasons. However, our regular contributor for the PRO14 is unavailable this week so here goes.

This season has a feel of “marking time” to me as the pandemic continues to rage across Europe but Ulster, who sit in second place in Conference A, have made a reasonable fist of the first three games of the season with three wins. They have picked up 14 match points from a possible 15 to boast an impressive match point pick up of 93%, a record only bettered by Leinster.

Cardiff sit in second place in Conference B with two wins from their first three games after losing to Conference B leaders Munster last week. Their match point pick up sits at 60%.

From those stats you would expect Ulster to have the edge going into the game but they are missing their star player of the opening games Marcell Coetzee who sits this one out in Belfast while the team travel to Wales. Overall there are eight changes to the team compared to the one that started against the Dragons.

Michael Lowry, Adam McBurney, Kieran Treadwell and Nick Timony all step up from the bench with Matty Rea, Craig Gilroy, Stuart McCloskey and Billy Burns all joining the starting line up. Rea comes in for his 50th cap.

The bench sees Queen’s University’s exciting youngster Ethan McIlroy make a welcome return to the squad, as does Luke Marshall after an extended period off due to injury. .

As we cover Ulster players from school through to the senior side I like to keep an eye on that development pathway for the local players. It appears that this avenue for advancement appears to be shrinking every season with only 43% of the players selected transitioning through that particular route. Personally I’d like to see it at +60% and it may well increase in coming seasons as the purse strings tighten and player movement reduces if these viruses continue to do the rounds.

Cardiff have also made a few changes since their last outing. They have been without 6 senior players through the Six Nations but they are able to welcome back the experienced Will Boyde and Josh Turnbull for this one according to head coach John Mulvihill.

It is pleasing to welcome back Boyde and JT, they will give us a little more power and experience in the pack and it allows us to manage our squad a bit more.

Ulster will present another formidable challenge. They are undefeated and are a hugely physical team with good variety to their attack and they do not lose many players to the international game.

We will have to be at our best but we still have some confidence and momentum, we have prepared well and have a pretty good record at Rodney Parade.

If we can perform to our potential, cut out the mistakes and play for the 80 minutes, I am confident we can get the result.Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill

There are a lot of challenges facing rugby at the moment and, it they are going to compete in a digital world, they need to produce a more entertaining product than the usual grunt and grind served up in the PRO14. Teams need to start and take a few more risks. Ulster have a comparatively exciting backline and I hope they have been given the latitude to play with a degree of freedom.

The FRU predicts: I’m looking forward to a lively, open, and high scoring game with Ulster having the edge in attack. McIlroy and Marshall to make telling impacts in the second half.

The match is being played at Rodney Parade, Newport due to Cardiff Arms having to be completely relaid due to damage caused during its use as a nightingale hospital.

Cardiff Blues v Ulster Match Details

Rodney Parade, Newport – KO 18:00 UK
Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU, 9th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Adam Jones, Ben Breakspear (both WRU)
TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)
Live on Premier Sports 2, eir Sport 1,

Matthew Morgan15Michael Lowry
Aled Summerhill14Craig Gilroy
Rey Lee-Lo13Stewart Moore
Willis Halaholo12Stuart McCloskey
Hallam Amos11Louis Ludik
Jarrod Evans10Billy Burns(C)
Lewis Jones9John Cooney
Corey Domachowski1Eric O’Sullivan
Kristian Dacey(C)2Adam McBurney
Dmitri Arhip3Marty Moore
James Ratti4Alan O’Connor
Rory Thornton5Kieran Treadwell
Josh Turnbull6Matty Rea
James Botham7Jordi Murphy
Will Boyde8Nick Timoney
Ethan Lewis16John Andrew
Brad Thyer17Jack McGrath
Scott Andrews18Ross Kane
Ben Murphy19Sam Carter
Olly Robinson20Sean Reidy
Jamie Hill21Alby Mathewson
James Tovey22Luke Marshall
Garyn Smith23Ethan McIlroy

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