Wednesday 21 February 2018

Doak's Ravens unlikely to ruffle feathers of Foley's 'A' brigade

British and Irish cup semi-final Munster 'A' v Ulster Ravens, Thomond Park, 3.30

ULSTER face the sternest test of their resources as they face two matches inside a gruelling 24 hours this weekend.

The injury-hit senior side travel to Murrayfield to take on Edinburgh tomorrow as they continue their desperate attempt to secure the third Irish Heineken Cup spot ahead of hard-chasing Connacht, while today, Neil Doak's Ravens travel to Thomond Park to take on Munster, who have a 100pc record in this competition.

The Limerick venue should see a good attendance as the southern province have cleverly paired the semi-final with the senior side's Magners League clash with the Ospreys, thus making Ulster's task all the more daunting.

The Northerners have played some exciting rugby in this competition so far, running in 22 tries in their five outings, with a draw, away to Llanelli, the only blotch on their copy book.

However, Munster have the best defensive record in the competition, as they have conceded just three tries in 400 minutes of rugby.

So, should the irresistible force and the immovable object cancel each other out, there will be two ten-minute periods of extra-time. After that, the team who has scored the most tries in the match will go through and if that still doesn't separate the sides, the away team (Ulster) will progress.

However, it seems unlikely that it will come to that, as Munster 'A' have already beaten their Ulster counterparts twice this season and it looks like Anthony Foley's side will progress to the May 16 final, which will be shown live on Sky Sports, at the home of the winners of either the Cornish Pirates or Doncaster Knights.

Verdict: Munster

MUNSTER A -- M Lawler (Shannon); R O'Mahony (Garryowen), D Barnes (Dolphin), J Manning (Cork Con), S Scanlon (UCC); D Cusack (Thomond), D Williams (Cork Con); D Ryan (Dolphin), M Sherry (Garryowen), S Archer (Cork Con); D Foley (UL Bohs), I Nagle (Cork Con); T O'Donnell (UL Bohs), E Grace (Shannon), P O'Mahony (Cork Con) capt. Reps: D Kilcoyne (UL Bohs), S Henry (UL Bohs), D O'Callaghan (UCC), P Butler (Shannon), C Murray (Garryowen), M Kelliher (Richmond), L O'Dea (Shannon).

ULSTER RAVENS -- D McIlwhaine (Queens University); C Cochrane (Dungannon), M Allen (Belfast Harlequins), J Shiels (Queens), T Seymour (Ballymena); J McKinney (Queens), I Porter (Queens); P McAllister (Ballynahinch), N Brady (Dungannon, capt), D Fitzpatrick (Dungannon); A Linton (Queens), N McComb (B Harlequins); A Birch (Dungannon), S Dougall (Malone), S Lavella (Trinity). Reps: N Annett (B Harlequins), P Karayiannis (Queens), N Magee (Dungannon), S McKenzie (Dungannon), M Pyper (Queens), L Marshall(Ballymena), C Gilroy (Dungannon)

Ref -- D Philips (IRFU)

Irish Independent

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