RECAP: Leinster v Ulster
READERS’ FORUM: Welcome to the Pro14 Round Eight encounter between Leinster and Ulster at the RDS.
Unbeaten Leinster, the defending champions and runaway leaders this time around, face potentially their sternest test yet against Dan McFarland’s Ulster.
Ulster is impressing both at home and in Europe this season and came within a whisker of beating Leo Cullen’s men at the Aviva back in April in the Champions Cup quarterfinals. But the bare facts are not encouraging for an upset, Leinster have not lost to Ulster or indeed any Irish province at the RDS since 2013.
They have scored the most tries this season after seven rounds, conceded the fewest and come into the clash on an 11-match winning run.
Last season this fixture at the RDS was entirely one-way traffic, Sean Cronin crossing for a first-half double as Leinster wrapped up a bonus point before the break and ended up 40-7 victors. Make no mistake, Ulster are up against it.
But expect fireworks to fly as two in-form sides go head to head.
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Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Tommy O’Brien, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Cian Kelleher, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Will Connors, 5 Josh Murphy, 4 Scott Fardy (captain), 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Oisín Dowling, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Conor O’Brien.
Ulster: 15 Rob Lyttle, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Matt Faddes, 12 Angus Curtis, 11 Angus Kernohan, 10 Bill Johnston, 9 David Shanahan, 8 Greg Jones, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Matthew Rea, 5 Alan O’Connor (captain), 4 David O’Connor, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Adam McBurney, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Jack Regan, 20 Azur Allison, 21 Jonny Stewart, 22 Stewart Moore, 23 Ethan McIlroy.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy, Kieran Barry (both Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)