Dan McFarland has made nine changes from the Challenge Cup semi final defeat to Leicester Tigers as Ulster travel down to Thomond Park to take on Munster in the second match of the Rainbow Cup.
It’s a revamped front row with Andrew Warwick, John Andrew and Tom O’Toole all coming in to the starting team. The inclusion of Marcus Rea in the back row is the other change to the pack. In the backs, Michael Lowry starts at ten with Alby Mathewson at scrum half. Will Addison partners Stuart McCloskey in the centre with Rob Lyttle coming onto the wing.
Sam Carter and Angus Curtis have recovered from their respective injuries and find themselves on the bench. Carter hasn’t featured for Ulster since the away defeat to Leinster at the start of the year while Curtis will make his first appearance since December 2019.
Munster have had an indifferent season despite running away with first position in Conference B. They were comfortably defeated by Leinster in the final while Toulouse knocked them out of the Champions Cup on home turf.
They’ve named a strong side ahead of tomorrow night and will be hoping that the Rainbow Cup ends their hunt for silverware after besting Leinster at the RDS two weeks ago.
While there’s no Joey Carbery, they are bolstered by Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony, Tadhg Beirne and Andrew Conway. Impressive youngster Gavin Coombes seems to be the heir to CJ Stander‘s eight jersey after an impressive PRO14 campaign, scoring eight tries. He starts at eight tomorrow night.
Ulster have a poor record down in Limerick with their last win coming in May 2014 after Michael Heaney grabbed the match winner for the Ulstermen. It’s one of four wins, and a draw, Ulster have recorded away to Munster since 1996, including the HC Quarter Final.
Since that match, while the scorelines have been close (mostly!), Ulster only have a draw to show for their efforts coming in an end of season encounter in April 2018 when they needed a win to qualify for the play offs.
|DATE||COMP||VENUE||REFEREE||ULSTER (HT)||MUNSTER (HT)|
|28 APR 18||PRO14||Thomond Park||Ben Whitehouse||(24) 24||(14) 24|
|29 SEP 18||PRO14||Thomond Park||Daniel Jones||(0) 7||(29) 64|
|21 DEC 18||PRO14||Ravenhill||Sean Gallagher||(7) 19||(3) 12|
|9 NOV 19||PRO14||Thomond Park||Frank Murphy||(6) 16||(15) 22|
|3 JAN 20||PRO14||Ravenhill||Daniel Jones||(17) 38||(10) 17|
|2 JAN 21||PRO14||Ravenhill||Mike Adamson||(15) 15||(3) 10|
The man in the middle
Craig Evans will take charge of his 21st league game and third Ulster match. It will be his second game this season with the previous result being a resounding 43-14 win over Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
|DATE||COMP||OPPO||VENUE||ULSTER (HT)||OPPO (HT)|
|12 OCT 19||PRO14||Southern Kings||Nelson Mandela Bay||(35) 42||(10) 17|
|30 NOV 20||PRO14||Edinburgh||Murrayfield||(19) 43||(7) 14|
|Mike Haley||15||Jacob Stockdale|
|Andrew Conway||14||Rob Lyttle|
|Dan Goggin||13||Will Addison|
|Rory Scannell||12||Stuart McCloskey|
|Shane Daly||11||Ethan McIlroy|
|JJ Hanrahan||10||Michael Lowry|
|Conor Murray||9||Alby Mathewson|
|Dave Kilcoyne||1||Andrew Warwick|
|Niall Scannell||2||John Andrew|
|John Ryan||3||Tom O’Toole|
|Fineen Wycherley||4||Alan O’Connor|
|Tadhg Beirne||5||Iain Henderson (C)|
|Peter O’Mahony (C)||6||Jordi Murphy|
|Chris Cloete||7||Marcus Rea|
|Gavin Coombes||8||David McCann|
|Kevin O’Byrne||16||Rob Herring|
|Jeremy Loughman||17||Callum Reid|
|Roman Salanoa||18||Marty Moore|
|Jean Kleyn||19||Sam Carter|
|CJ Stander||20||Nick Timoney|
|Nick McCarthy||21||David Shanahan|
|Ben Healy||22||Angus Curtis|
|Damian de Allende||23||James Hume|
The FRU predicts: Considering the strength of the two teams, I’m tipping Munster tomorrow night with the home side running away with it in the last quarter after a one-score game for the first three quarters.