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2020-21 Challenge Cup Leicester Tigers Provincial Rugby Men Ulster Rugby

Challenge Cup: Teams up for Leicester Tigers v Ulster

Dan McFarland has made five changes to his side ahead of the trip to Welford Road in the Challenge Cup semi final tomorrow night.

Eric O’Sullivan, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor and Jordi Murphy return to the forward pack while Stuart McCloskey is the only change to the back line.

The main talking points to the selection are that Sean Reidy starts on the bench with Matty Rea preferred and he will provide another ball carrying threat in the pack. Jacob Stockdale moves to fullback and Ethan McIlroy retains his spot on the left wing. Michael Lowry and Will Addison start on the bench.

The Opposition

It’s been a improvement from Leicester Tigers this season and they sit in eighth position battling for a Champions Cup spot next year.

Unlike Harlequins and Northampton, Tigers started the season in the Challenge Cup, defeating Brive and Bayonne to secure a home spot in the last sixteen where they defeated Connacht and then Newcastle Falcons to sure a semi final spot.

They suffered a narrow defeat to East Midlands rivals Northampton Saints last weekend 23-18 despite a decent second half fight back. Jasper Wiese was a stand out player in that match along with double try scorer Nemani Nadolo. Both are destructive ball carriers that will run over the top of their opposite man if afforded a one-on-one.

It’s two fully loaded sides tomorrow night with George Ford, Ellis Genge, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Hanro Liebenberg, Wiese and Nadolo all set to start. Tomas Lavinini, Cyle Brink, Ben Youngs and Kini Murimurivalu are set to be sprung from the bench.

Ulster have lost just three matches out of the 10 games played in the Champions Cup since the first meeting in January 2004. Only one of those defeats have come in the last seven matches while Ulster are also on a three game unbeaten run against the East Midlands club.

DATECOMPVENUEREFEREEULSTERLEICESTER
11 Oct 13Champions CupRavenhillRomain Poite2216
18 Jan 14Champions CupWelford RoadNigel Owens2219
18 Oct 14Champions CupWelford RoadRomain Poite1825
24 Jan 15Champions CupRavenhillPascal Gauzere267
13 Oct 18Champions CupRavenhillPascal Gauzere2410
19 Jan 19Champions CupWelford RoadAlexandre Ruiz1413

The man in the middle…

Pascal Gauzere will take charge of his 7th Ulster match on Friday. His first match was a memorable 26-22 win at Bath back in 2010 in snowy conditions which included a fantastic finish from Nevin Spence in the corner as well as an opening score from Adam D’Arcy.

The last Ulster match he officiated was back in 2018, where Ulster defeated Friday’s opposition with tries from Alan O’Connor, Will Addison and Jacob Stockdale. All but one of the six matches has resulted in an Ulster win, with the only loss coming against Leinster at the RDS in April 2011.

DATECOMPOPPVENUEULSTEROPP
18 Dec 10European CupBathRecreation Ground2622
16 Apr 11Celtic LeagueLeinsterRDS2634
11 Jan 13European CupGlasgow WarriorsRavenhill236
24 Jan 15European CupLeicester TigersRavenhill267
10 Dec 17European CupHarlequinsTwickenham Stoop175
13 Oct 18European CupLeicester TigersRavenhill2410

The FRU predicts: Leicester Tigers play a power, forward dominated game, one that Ulster struggled to cope with against Connacht and in the first half against Northampton Saints. If Ulster can keep Leicester’s back row under control, then I think they will win, but it will require a massive forward shift.

LEICESTER TIGERSULSTER
Freddie Steward15Jacob Stockdale
Guy Porter14Robert Baloucoune
Matias Moroni13James Hume
Matt Scott12Stuart McCloskey
Nemani Nadolo11Ethan McIlroy
George Ford10Billy Burns
Richard Wigglesworth9John Cooney
Ellis Genge1Eric O’Sullivan
Tom Youngs2Rob Herring
Dan Cole3Marty Moore
Harry Wells4Alan O’Connor
Calum Green5Iain Henderson
George Martin6Matthew Rea
Hanro Liebenberg7Jordi Murphy
Jasper Wiese8Nick Timoney
Charlie Clare16John Andrew
Luan de Bruin17Andrew Warwick
Joe Heyes18Tom O’Toole
Tomas Lavanini19Kieran Treadwell
Cyle Brink20Sean Reidy
Ben Youngs21Alby Mathewson
Zack Henry22Michael Lowry
Kini Murimurivalu23Will Addison

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