Thursday 23 May 2019

Much-changed teams chase new year cheer

Jacob Stockdale’s form has been one of the few positives for Ulster. Photo: John Dickson/Sportsfile
Jacob Stockdale’s form has been one of the few positives for Ulster. Photo: John Dickson/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Both of these sides finished 2017 on a low and this evening's battle is about putting that behind them and getting the New Year off to a strong start.

Squad rotation has robbed the fixture of some star power, with both coaches making 11 changes to their teams after disappointing defeats either side of Christmas Day.

Munster looked a tired team as they went down in spectacular circumstances at home to Leinster on St Stephen's Day and so Johann van Graan brings in a whole slew of new faces to freshen things up with Keith Earls back after his illness and lining out at centre, while Niall Scannell gets his first start back from injury.

Ulster are without their Ireland front-liners Jacob Stockdale, Iain Henderson and Rory Best, but under-pressure Les Kiss is able to hand the No 10 jersey back to Christian Lealiifano while ex-Munster No 8 Jean Deysel should fuel some extra ball-carrying edge at the back of the scrum.

Both teams could do with the points in their pursuit of semi-final spots, with Munster 12 points behind Glasgow Warriors in second in Conference A and Ulster seven points off second-placed Leinster in Conference B.

Verdict: Ulster

ULSTER - C Piutau; C Gilroy, L Ludik, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; C Leali'ifano, J Cooney; K McCall, R Herring (capt), R Ah You; A O'Connor, K Treadwell; G Jones, N Timoney, J Deysel. Reps: A McBurney, C Black, W Herbst, R Diack, M Rea, P Marshall, J McPhillips, A Trimble.

MUNSTER - S Zebo; C Nash, K Earls, S Arnold, A Wootton;JJ Hanrahan, D Williams; J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; D O'Shea, B Holland (capt); T O'Donnell, C Cloete, J O'Donoghue. Reps: K O'Byrne, R Loughman, S Archer, F Wycherley, R Copeland, J Hart, B Johnston, R O'Mahony.

Ref - S Gallagher (IRFU)

Ulster v Munster,

Live, BBC NI / TG4, 5.35

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