Challenge Cup: Teams up for Harlequins v Ulster

Published Categorised as 2020-21, Challenge Cup, Harlequins Rugby, Provincial Rugby Men, Ulster Rugby Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Robert Baloucoune starts on the wing for Ulster against Harlequins.

Dan McFarland has made six changes as Ulster head to Twickenham Stoop in search of their first European knockout match win since 2012.

Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, Rob Herring, Stuart McCloskey, Nick Timoney and Alan O’Connor all return to the starting lineup while Iain Henderson misses out.

There were question marks whether Burns would start ahead of the in-form Ian Madigan, as the ex Gloucester man has only played 134 minutes of rugby in 2021 due to injury while away with Ireland.

This is Ulster’s first ever match in the second tier of Europe and the team named indicates that they are eyeing an end to their 17 year trophy drought.

The Opposition

Having relieved Paul Gustard of his duties at the start of the year, Harlequins have been on an upward trajectory and have played fantastic rugby that’s resulted in a plethora of tries being scored and a positional rise from seventh to third in the Premiership standings.

On the pitch, the revival has been sparked by Marcus Smith, Alex Dombrandt, Will Evans, Danny Care, Andre Esterhuizen and Mike Brown but none of these players are involved tomorrow as the west London side have their focus on domestic glory.

There’s a start for former Ulster player, Brett Herron at ten who has played only 24 minutes of rugby to date in the Premiership season. At Ulster he made just eight appearances before moving Jersey Reds in 2018.

Tyrone Green is the only survivor from their heartbreaking defeat to Bristol Bears last weekend but he fills the 15 jersey instead of the right wing spot. The former Lions player was a star for South Africa in their U20 World Championship campaign in 2018 and has scored four tries in 11 appearances for his new club.

At 12 is former Utah Warrior and Chicago Bears practice squad running back Paul Lasike. He’s deadly from close range so expect him to carry hard into Burns if Quins have an attacking 5m scrum. He has hardly featured this season, chalking up just 12 minutes of rugby against Gloucester in December.

Also included in the Quins squad is Munster’s Jack Stafford who moved to Quins in the summer of 2020. Stafford featured in our Ireland U20 2017 coverage where he and Jonny Stewart battled it out for the scrum half berth for most of the season.

18-10-08European CupTwickenham StoopTim Hayes2142
17-1-09 European Cup RavenhillRomain Poite2110
10-12-17 European Cup Twickenham Stoop Pascal Gauzere175
15-12-17 European Cup Ravenhill Alexandre Ruiz5224
7-12-19 European Cup Ravenhill Mike Adamson2524
13-12-19 European Cup Twickenham Stoop Alexandre Ruiz 3410
Ulster have won the last five matches between the sides and hold a 5-2 winning record over Harlequins

The Man in the Middle

It’s a high profile appointment for a Challenge Cup match as Romain Poite will take the whistle tomorrow night.

Ulster have lost eight of the 14 competitive games that Poite has been involved, including the last four matches. He officiated Ulster’s 21-18 Champions Cup exit to Leinster in March 2019 but has also overseen some memorable Ulster victories including the 22-16 win at Thomond Park, the 41-7 win over Leicester Tigers as well as the 2012 Heineken Cup semi final against Edinburgh.

6-4-13European CupSaracensTwickenham1627
11-10-13European Cup Leicester TigersRavenhill2216
18-10-14European Cup Leicester TigersWelford Road1825
20-11-15European Cup Saracens Ravenhill 927
15-1-17European Cup Exeter ChiefsSandy Park1931
30-3-19European Cup Leinster Lansdowne Road1821

The Teams

Tyrone Green15Michael Lowry
Luke Northmore14Robert Baloucoune
James Lang13James Hume
Paul Lasike12Stuart McCloskey
Nathan Earle11Jacob Stockdale
Brett Herron10Billy Burns
Scott Steele9John Cooney
Santiago Garcia Botta1Eric O’Sullivan
Elia Elia2Rob Herring
Will Collier3Marty Moore
Hugh Tizard4Alan O’Connor
George Hammond5Kieran Treadwell
Archie White6Sean Reidy
Jack Kenningham7Jordi Murphy (C)
Tom Lawday (C)8Nick Timoney.
George Head16John Andrew
Jordan Els17Andrew Warwick
Simon Kerrod18Tom O’Toole
Tevita Cavubati19Cormac Izuchukwu
Matas Jurevicius20Matty Rea
Jack Stafford21Alby Mathewson
Ben Tapuai22Ian Madigan
Ross Chisholm23Ethan McIlroy

The FRU Predicts: Prior to the teams being announced, the bookies were given Ulster a four point head start but this swung to a ten point head start for Harlequins after it was confirmed they would be fielding a rotated side. I believe this Ulster side will get the job done at the Stoop tomorrow night.

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