Tuesday 20 August 2019

Connacht have firepower to ruin Best's farewell

Ulster v Connacht, Live, eir Sport, 5.35

Rory Best. Photo: Sportsfile
Rory Best. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Ravenhill bids farewell to two provincial legends this evening and the Ulster team's mission is to ensure this is not the final call for Rory Best and Darren Cave.

The hooker is fit enough to lead the side for the final time at the Belfast venue and he'll do everything in his power to end the club's long wait for a trophy.

Best's career has been a glittering one, but the lack of success at provincial level will nag him.

And he'll recognise that this Connacht side are quality opponents with the potential to return to the Kingspan Stadium and pick up a second win of the season having waited 57 years for their first.

With Marty Moore absent, the home side's scrum looks vulnerable to a strong Connacht eight, while the visitors have the edge at half-back and possess a potent midfield.

Jacob Stockdale misses out and Ulster have picked one of the lightest back-threes the professional game has seen. The visitors will surely look to target them on the ground and in the air.

Emotion will be on the home team's side and they've proven themselves capable of producing performances of real quality and intensity.

They will have to repeat the trick and get up to the levels they hit against Leinster and Edinburgh to set up a trip for a semi-final away to Glasgow on Friday week. On paper at least, it is the westerners who have the firepower to prolong their season.

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Verdict: Connacht

ULSTER - M Lowry; R Baloucoune, L Marshall, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; B Burns, J Cooney; E O'Sullivan, R Best (capt), R Kane, I Henderson, K Treadwell; N Timoney, J Murphy, M Coetzee. Reps: R Herring, A Warwick, T O'Toole, A O'Connor, S Reidy, D Shanahan, D Cave, A Kernohan.

CONNACHT - T O'Halloran; S Fitzgerald, T Farrell, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, D Heffernan, F Bealham; U Dillane, G Thornbury; E McKeon, C Fainga'a, J Butler (capt). Reps: S Delahunt, P McCabe, C Carey, E Masterson, P Boyle, C Blade, T Daly, D Leader.

Ref - A Brace (IRFU).

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