March 29th, 2019

Leinster v Ulster Preview

“For us it is not a daunting thing, it is an excitement for us. We are looking forward to it. It will be great for us.” 

 

Rory Best will lead Ulster as his side take on the reigning European Champions. He has sent this message to rally his troops encouraging them to embrace the challenge of playing Leinster.

In Europe, Leinster has proved irresistible in recent times scoring tries for fun and outclassing their opponents. Leinster have won seven of their last eight quarterfinals and dismantled Ulster in the 2012 final 42-14.

Ulster went into this campaign with lower expectations than previous years. They have gone better than anyone would have thought; they progressed through a tough looking group with Racing 92, Leicester and Scarlets. Ulster won 5 of their 6 group games to secure their spot in the quarters.

 

Team News:

 

Leinster’s forward pack looks formidable and could prove too strong for Ulster. Their front row has an embarrassment of experience and Irish caps and their back row has a good blend of youth and experience.

That said, there is hope for Ulster when they look at the Leinster backline. They are, of course, very talented players in their own right, but the backline is without seasoned campaigners Lowe and Henshaw. They are also missing their talisman Johnny Sexton.

Ulster is boosted by the inclusion of Ian Henderson. He will bring a physical edge to the Ulster pack. Murphy will be up against his former side and we can expect a big shift from the open side flanker.

Ulster has had a mini injury crisis in the backline. Will Addison is unfortunately ruled out of this game and his X factor will be missed. Thankfully, the experienced Cave has been passed fit and will line up at outside centre on Saturday.

Michael Lowry starts at fullback and it could be a coming of age for the talented youngster.

 

Selection: Ulster Half Time / Leinster Full Time 13/2

 

I really believe Ulster have the tools to catch Leinster cold in the first half at the Aviva. The boys have defied the odds coming out of a tough group and have a good chance of running Leinster close this weekend.

Ultimately, I expect the Leinster pressure to tell and their forwards to prove too strong in the latter stages of the game. But Ulster should be buoyed by what, on paper, looks a beatable Leinster team.

They must play with freedom and confidence in what could be Rory Best’s last European game for the club.