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Friday 18 April 2014

Depleted Ravens face tall order

THE British & Irish Cup exists in the shadows of professional rugby at the best of times, but by going head-to-head with Ulster's crunch Heineken Cup clash against Glasgow at Ravenhill tonight, the Ravens' meeting with Bristol at Deramore Park (7.30) has barely registered on the radar, writes Ruaidhri O'Connor.

These teams have a stranglehold on the group, with Welsh clubs Bridgend and Cardiff long gone, but having lost in Bristol, the depleted Ravens will be keen to make amends. Bristol won their last meeting by a solitary point, but the promotion-chasing Championship side have named a strong squad, including former Ulster winger David McIlwaine.

With little chance of a big crowd, the hosts look up against it as Bristol appear to have more firepower available.

Verdict: Bristol.

ULSTER RAVENS – B McIlroy; N Walsh, S McCloskey, N O'Connor, R Scholes; S Olding, M Heaney; R Lutton, N Annett (capt), A Macklin; A O'Connor, J Simpson; C Joyce, A Birch, J McMahon. Reps: N Brady, A Warwick, J Donnan, N Faloon, J Creighton, S Morrow, C Colvin.

BRISTOL – J Tovey; G Watkins, M Tagicakibau, L Eves, D McIlwaine; A Jarvis, J Grindal (capt); K Traynor, R Johnston, J Hobson; B Glynn, G Townson; M Mama, J Merriman, M Eadie. Reps: R Lawrence, M Lilley, W Thompson, M Sambucetti, R Pennycook, R Tipuna, T Roberts.

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