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Leinster Rugby vs Ulster Rugby
Pro14 Conference B, Round 13
RDS Arena, Ballsbridge
Saturday, 5th January 2019, 17:15

TV: Live on Eir Sports

Well that wasn't much fun!

Leinster lost only their second league game of the season to Munster after a chaotic first half of crazy indiscipline. Some Leinster fans sought to blame referee Frank Murphy, but while you could argue he was quite forgiving of some of Munster's retaliation, it could and arguably should have been worse for Leinster. Scott Fardy, Rhys Ruddock and Jack Conan could also have been carded and Tadhg Furlong's yellow really should have been a red if we're honest. For a team with only one yellow card all season, it was a remarkable breakdown in discipline and the players need to put their hands up and take responsibility.

Toulouse would have watched the match with glee and will no doubt be making plans on how they can wind Leinster up in their match on Saturday week. But hopefully Leinster will learn from it and return to the focused, highly disciplined side they normally are. The positive for Leinster was the attitude the team showed when down a man for practically the whole match. They kept bringing the match to Munster and did well to be in contention until the intercept try.

Leinster will look to regroup this week against an Ulster team who have improved of late under new coach Dan McFarland. They got fine back to back bonus point wins over Scarlets in the Heineken Cup which have put them right back in contention for qualification. They then beat Munster (also an ill-tempered affair) before going down rather meekly away to Connacht last week.

McFarland has named a young side including four academy players in his XV in fullback Michael Lowry, centre James Hume, wing Angus Kernohan and second row Matthew Dalton. With Ireland internationals like John Cooney, Rory Best and Jordi Murphy rested this weekend, Alan O'Connor captains the team from the second row.

Lowry and Kernohan are joined in the back three by the returning Rob Lyttle. Darren Cave and Hume are the midfield pairing while Johnny McPhillips partners Dave Shanahan in the halfbacks. Former Leinster under-20s players Greg Jones and Nick Timoney are in the back row alongside the experienced Sean Reidy, while Dalton will make his opening appearance of the campaign in the second row beside O'Connor, another ex-Leinster man. Kyle McCall and Adam McBurney are in the front row along with tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst who is back after injury.

For Leinster it's all change as Leo Cullen names a completely different starting fifteen. Rob Kearney is back from injury and will captain Leinster from full back. Adam Byrne comes in on the right wing and Barry Daly returns from long-term injury on the left. Noel Reid is joined by Conor O'Brien in the centre with Jamison Gibson-Park and Ciaran Frawley the half back pairing.

In the pack Jack McGrath has recovered from a hip injury to take his place in the front row alongside Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter. Ross Molony and Mick Kearney start in the second row with Josh Murphy, Scott Penny and Max Deegan the back row. On the bench there is a potential debut for second row Oisin Dowling.

It's a fairly callow Leinster team but with the Ulster team barely out of nappies, they still should win handily enough.

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Ulster Rugby
Teams Rob Kearney (C)
15 Michael Lowry
Adam Byrne 14 Rob Lyttle
Conor O'Brien 13 Darren Cave
Noel Reid 12 James Hume
Barry Daly 11 Angus Kernohan
Ciaran Frawley 10 Johnny McPhillips
Jamison Gibson-Park 9 Dave Shanahan

Jack McGrath 1 Kyle McCall
Sean Cronin 2 Adam McBurney
Andrew Porter 3 Wiehahn Herbst
Ross Molony4 Matthew Dalton
Mick Kearney 5 Alan O'Connor (C)
Josh Murphy 6 Greg Jones
Scott Penny 7 Sean Reidy
Max Deegan 8 Nick Timoney

Replacements James Tracy 16 John Andrew
Ed Byrne 17 Andrew Warwick
Michael Bent 18 Tom O'Toole
Oisin Dowling 19 Caleb Montgomery
Caelan Doris 20
Clive Ross
Hugh O'Sullivan 21 Jonny Stewart
Ross Byrne 22 Bruce Houston
Jimmy O'Brien 23 Peter Nelson

Not Considered
due to Injury
Will Connors,
Fergus McFadden,
Joe Tomane,
Sean O'Brien,
Robbie Henshaw,
Nick McCarthy,
Hugo Keenan,
David Kearney

Tommy O'Hagan,
Marcell Coetzee,
Luke Marshall,
Iain Henderson
Officials Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU),
Assistant referees: George Clancy (IRFU),  Kieran Barry (IRFU),
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

by Jim O'Connor, © 2019-01-04