Thursday 22 February 2018

Gilroy to become youngest centurion as Ulster eye upward momentum

The young Dungannon wing, who lined out for the Wolfhounds last week, will become the youngster player to make 100 appearances for the province at just 23.
The young Dungannon wing, who lined out for the Wolfhounds last week, will become the youngster player to make 100 appearances for the province at just 23.
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

With their interest in Europe over, Ulster are well placed for an assault on the Pro12 while the eyes of the rugby world are drawn elsewhere. The problem is, so are the other sides at the top of the table.

Ulster lie fifth in the standings, five points off the lead, but of that group only Leinster are chasing glory on two fronts, leaving leaders Ospreys, Munster and Glasgow with just domestic honours to play for.

Ulster have the carrot of a home final should they get that far, with the tournament decider fixed for Kingspan Stadium. And they also come into this game on the back of a morale-boosting win over Leicester.

Darren Cave scored a hat-trick of tries in that game and he starts for the visit of Treviso tonight, but pride of place goes to Craig Gilroy.

The young Dungannon wing, who lined out for the Wolfhounds last week, will become the youngster player to make 100 appearances for the province at just 23.

Wolfhounds hooker Rob Herring starts, while Robbie Diack is also in the match-day squad, having been released by the Ireland set-up.

Ian Humphreys and Ruan Pienaar make up the half-back pairing. However, recent addition Tim Boys, a Kiwi flanker, will have to wait to make his debut.

Treviso are second from bottom but they will be buoyed by their gutsy performance when Ulster went to Italy earlier this season.

They went down by four points but butchered a late chance to snatch victory, having scored 20 points without reply.

However, only Toulon have won in Belfast this year and Treviso look well short, meaning Ulster can get what Herring acknowledges is a crucial period off to a winning start.

"It's a big period for us, these next four or five games," Herring said. "(Teams) in the top four will be playing each other and we're playing teams who are closer to the bottom."

Verdict: Ulster

Ulster - L Ludik; C Gilroy, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen, I Humphreys, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring, W Herbst, L Stevenson, F Van der Merwe, R Wilson (capt), M McComish, N Williams. Reps: J Andrew, A Warwick, B Ross, R Diack, C Ross, P Marshall, S McCloskey, P Nelson.

Treviso - J Hayward; A Esposito, E Bacchin, S Christie, L Nitoglia; J Carlisle, A Lucchese; M Zanusso, D Giazzon, R Harden; A Pavanello (capt), C Van Zyl; M Swanepoel, D Budd, M Luamanu. Reps: A Anae, J Novak, S Manu, T Vallejos, N Cattina, A Pratichetti, J Ambrosini, H Seniloli.

Ref - I Davies (WRU)

Ulster v Treviso,

Live, BBC NI, 7.35

Irish Independent

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