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Friday 28 April 2017

Dardis back to boost Blues' hunt for place in B&I Cup quarter-finals

Dardis injured his shoulder during pre-season but has recovered to take his place at full-back Picture: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Dardis injured his shoulder during pre-season but has recovered to take his place at full-back Picture: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Leinster 'A' relinquished their place at the top of their British and Irish Cup pool with defeat to Scarlets last time out and if they are to regain it, a win in Nottingham this evening is crucial.

Hugh Hogan's hand, however, is strengthened by the return of Billy Dardis and Ed Byrne.

Dardis injured his shoulder during pre-season but has recovered to take his place at full-back, while Byrne, who hasn't played for Leinster since August 2015, will make his comeback from the bench.

Nottingham still harbour plenty of ambitions of their own to advance to the knockout stages and they are coached by former Munster assistant Ian Costello who will be desperate to get one over on Leinster.

Jordan Coghlan, who came through the Leinster academy, starts at openside for Nottingham while ex-Munster back-row Shane Buckley is named at No 8.

Buckley will come up against Max Deegan - one of the country's brightest young talents and their battle could well be decisive. The two sides are level on 10 points each and with a big prize at stake, expect a cracker.

Munster 'A' have fewer concerns as they are comfortably top of their pool, having won all three of their games.

eager They welcome bottom side Doncaster Knights to Bandon where Bandon Grammar graduate Gavin Coombes will be eager to perform well in front of the home crowd.

In-form winger Calvin Nash continues to impress. The Limerick native was recently included as Munster's 24th man for a Pro12 clash and has a bright future ahead of him.

Stephen Fitzgerald returns on the opposite wing with Cian Bohane captaining the side from midfield. Stephen Archer will provide plenty of power in the front-row as Munster should have more than enough quality to comfortably maintain their 100pc record.

Elsewhere, up north, Ulster 'A' can take a big step towards sealing their quarter-final place when they host London Scottish at the Kingspan Stadium.

There is plenty of experience in the home side with Darren Cave named as captain and Ireland internationals Craig Gilroy and Robbie Diack also included in the line-up.

The holders London Scottish remain in the hunt for top spot and they are the only side to beat Ulster in the pool stages.

This evening's contest is certainly a must-win game for the visitors, but with three internationals in their starting XV, Ulster's experience is likely to tell in the end.

Irish Independent

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