In Ulster’s last game of 2018, they face a tough trip down to Connacht.
Connacht ended their Belfast hoodoo, overpowering Ulster to claim a first win in Belfast in 58 years. Ulster will be keen to avenge the loss and re-establish dominance in the match up.
Ulster have lost their last two matches against Connacht. Should they lose on Friday it will be the first time they’ve lost 3 in a row to Connacht since the mid 1950s.
With European competition on the horizon, both sides will be looking to gather momentum going into a crucial part of the season.
Ulster took on Munster at the Kingspan. In a close encounter, Ulster had enough to pick up an important home win.
Connacht travelled to the RDS to take on Leinster in what turned out to be a thrilling encounter. As visitors, they raced into an early lead.
They were playing an impressive brand of rugby scoring 4 tries in the process. They led Leinster 29-10 before the European Champions rallied to clinch the win 33-29.
Andy Friend will take positives from the way they played but it will have been a tough loss to take from such a commanding position.
Caolin Blade has a big opportunity this week as he deputises for Irish international Kieran Marmion. The young scrum half will have his work cut out against the experienced Cooney.
A captain in the Challenge cup earlier this season, the Connacht faithful are expecting great things from Blade. A big performance this Friday would do a lot for enhancing his reputation.
Cooney, once of Connacht, will be desperate to impress his former employers. He has gone from strength to strength since joining Ulster and will be vital if Ulster are to come through this interpro.
Ulster +6 at evens
Bundee Aki – First Try Scorer – 18/1