Saturday 16 December 2017

Longwell looks to youth

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

ULSTER put their unbeaten record in the British and Irish Cup on the line this afternoon when they welcome Pontypridd to Deramore Park (2.30).

Gary Longwell's men boast nine points from two games, but welcome a Welsh side who have won nine games from 11 in the Principality League.

Longwell has opted to mix youth with experience, as Nigel Brady skippers the team from hooker and is joined in the front-row by the experienced Callum Black and Jerry Cronin. Tim Barker and Neil McComb continue their successful second-row partnership, with Willie Faloon in the back-row.

The backline has a less familiar look to it, even if they have all featured for the first team. Ian Whitten starts at outside-centre, with Ian Porter lining out at scrum-half. Phoenix Academy members Conor Carey, James Simpson, Sean O'Connell, Blane McIlroy, Michael Allen and Ricky Andrew help make up the bench, with Longwell looking to blood some of his youngsters.

"It is important for our young players coming through to gain experience at this level as it is a good learning experience," he said.

Verdict: Ulster Ravens

Ulster Ravens -- P Nelson; C Gaston, I Whitten, C Farrell, C Cochrane; J McKinney, I Porter; C Black, N Brady (capt), J Cronin; T Barker N McComb; A Birch, W Faloon, M McComish. Reps: N Annett, C Carey, J Simpson, S O'Connell, B McIlroy, M Allen, R Andrew.

Irish Independent

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