December 20th, 2018

Ulster v Munster

By Angus Macartney

“We want to put out a performance this Friday night at home to Munster that really demonstrates what an interprovincial game means to us.” (McFarland – Ulster Coach)

 

For players and fans alike, there’s nothing quite like an interpro match. Notoriously tough contests, these matches showcase some of Ireland’s brightest talents and seasoned campaigners in a battle that means so much to both provinces.

 

“They hurt us when we were down there in Thomond Park” (McFarland)

 

These sides met in September with Munster handing Ulster their biggest defeat in Pro14 history – 64-7. McFarland will demand a response from Ulster to restore some pride in the jersey.

 

Team News:

 

Ulster are without their Irish trio Stockdale, Henderson and Best. Best is the only one who makes the squad and is available from the bench.

This will add pressure onto the more experienced players in the side and give some younger prospects a chance to make a name for themselves.

Munster have made wholesale changes for Friday night. They have made 13 changes from their European clash with Castre last week. Perhaps head coach Johann van Graan has an eye on their next match against Leinster on the 29th.

Ulster will hope to capitalise on facing this Munster side without their Irish internationals.

 

 

Key Battle: Stuart McCloskey v Jaco Taute

 

Once accepted as “one dimensional”, Ulster’s inside centre is beginning to silence the critics putting in consistent performances in the Ulster jersey.

His physicality has never been an issue but now he has added subtlety to his game, he is a real focal point in all of Ulster’s attacks.

Expect a big performance from McCloskey as he looks to grab the attention of Irish selectors ahead of the Six Nations.

The man tasked with keeping McCloskey quiet falls to Jaco Taute. The Springbok is known for his physicality and won’t be afraid of going toe to toe with Ulster’s No.12.

In his time with Munster, he has become a crowd favourite and appreciates what it means to play for Munster. He will be pivotal if Munster are to get a result in Belfast this Friday.

 

Top Tips: Anytime Try Scorers:

 

Will Addison (Ulster) 3/1

Addison has been making waves both domestically and in Europe. He will be relishing the opportunity of taking on Munster in Belfast and will fancy his chances of scoring this week.

 

Alex Wootton (Munster) 7/2

Wootton is a born finisher on the wing and has proven he knows his way to the try line.

 

Sam Arnold (Munster) 5/1

Once of Ulster, Sam Arnold is loving life down in Cork and has added incentive this week to perform against his former side.

He hasn’t looked back since leaving Ulster – recently included in Ireland’s international squad, he will be full of confidence.

His abrasive style and hunger for the ball make him great value to score anytime at 5/1.