Tuesday 17 September 2019

Ulster and Leinster rest big guns for Pro14 clash in Ravenhill

Ulster's Darren Cave of Ulster keeps possession. Photo: Sportsfile
Ulster's Darren Cave of Ulster keeps possession. Photo: Sportsfile

Ulster's game at home to Leinster on Saturday will mean little with the province's second spot in the Guinness PRO14's Conference B already secure.

That was never more evident than when casting an eye over the squad list for the game as Dan McFarland has changed his entire starting XV from the recent bonus point victory in Edinburgh.

Nick Timoney and Rob Lyttle are the only members of the starting side at Murrayfield that maintain their place in the squad, both named among the replacements.

All of the focus, of course, is already on the home quarter-final against Connacht a week later.

It could be a special day for the Rea family with Academy back row Marcus in line for his competitive senior debut as a replacement with his brother Matty named in the starting side. The pair have already played alongside one another in an Ulster shirt, lining up side by side in the November friendly win over Urugary.

Darren Cave, as expected, will captain the side at Kingspan Stadium and is joined in the centre by Peter Nelson.

Winger David Busby will make his first appearance of the season after suffering a knee-injury in pre-season. The utility back has previously played four games and scored a try on his debut against Zebre in February 2017. He is joined in the back line by Angus Kernohan and full-back Michael Lowry, who have made a combined total of 30 appearances to date this season.

Johnny McPhillips partners Dave Shanahan in the half-back positions.

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Andy Warwick, John Andrew and Ross Kane are selected in the front row, with on-loan Ian Nagle, who is eligible to play against his former club care of a special arrangement, and Alan O’Connor ready to offer support from the second row. Matty Rea, Clive Ross and Sean Reidy complete the forward pack.

Tommy O'Hagan and Jack Owens could make just their second appearances after being named among the replacements alongside Rea. Adam McBurney, Tom O'Toole, Timoney, Jonny Stewart and Lyttle are the other options on the bench.

Ross Byrne will captain Leinster as Leo Cullen also rings the changes.

Elsewhere in the back line, the experienced Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden are selected on the wings with Jimmy O'Brien at full-back completing the back three.

Noel Reid and Joe Tomane are Leinster's starting centre partnership for Saturday's game in Belfast.

Jack McGrath, Bryan Byrne and Michael Bent have been selected in the Leinster front row.

Oisín Dowling will make his first senior start alongside Josh Murphy in the second row.

Will Connors continues his return from an ACL injury to start in the back row along with Max Deegan and Caelan Doris, who both came off the bench in last Sunday's Heineken Champions Cup semi-final victory over Toulouse.

Ryan Baird, who made two appearances for Ireland U20 in their recent Six Nations Grand Slam-winning campaign, could make his senior debut from the bench. He will become the 57th player used by Cullen this season should he be called upon.

Ulster team to face Leinster

(15-9): Michael Lowry; David Busby, Darren Cave (captain), Peter Nelson, Angus Kernohan; Johnny McPhillips, Dave Shanahan;

(1-8): Andy Warwick, John Andrew, Ross Kane, Ian Nagle, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy;

Replacements (16-23): Adam McBurney, Tommy O’Hagan, Tom O’Toole, Nick Timoney, Marcus Rea, Jonny Stewart, Jack Owens, Rob Lyttle.

Leinster team to face Ulster

(15-9): Jimmy O’Brien, Fergus McFadden, Joe Tomane, Noel Reid, Dave Kearney, Ross Byrne (captain)

(1-8): Nick McCarthy, Jack McGrath, Bryan Byrne, Michael Bent, Josh Murphy, Oisín Dowling, Max Deegan, Will Connors, Caelan Doris

Replacements (16-23): Rónan Kelleher, Peter Dooley, Vakh Abdaladze, Ryan Baird, Scott Penny, Paddy Patterson, Ciarán Frawley, Barry Daly

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