Preview: Ulster v Leinster

Date published: April 29 2016

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Ireland internationals Andrew Trimble, Stuart McCloskey and Chris Henry have been recalled to the Ulster side that will face Leinster on Saturday.

The trio are the only new faces to the team which beat Zebre 17-47 last time out.

The front-row is unchanged for this crucial game with captain Rory Best packing down alongside Callum Black and Ricky Lutton, who will make his 50th appearance for the Province. Franco van der Merwe and Pete Browne continue their hugely effective second-row partnership.

Henry’s inclusion results in Sean Reidy moving to occupy the number eight jersey, while Iain Henderson will retain his position at blindside flanker.

Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson will start together at half-back for the sixth consecutive game. McCloskey will resume his partnership with Luke Marshall in midfield after missing the win over Zebre because of a shoulder injury.

Trimble, who also missed that trip to Parma, will take his place on the right wing and will be joined in the back three by Craig Gilroy and Jared Payne.

Director of rugby, Les Kiss, has named a strong bench that includes six Irish-capped players.

Rob Herring, Kyle McCall and Andy Warwick will provide options in the front-row department, with Robbie Diack and Roger Wilson covering the other forward positions.

The backline trio of Paul Marshall, Stuart Olding and Darren Cave will give Kiss plenty of attacking options off the bench.

Meanwhile, Dave Kearney will make his 100th Leinster appearance this Saturday.

He starts on the left wing in a back three with his brother, Rob, and Isa Nacewa, who captains the side.

There are nine changes in total to the team that defeated Edinburgh 30-23 at the RDS Arena two weeks ago.

Ben Te’o switches to inside centre for the trip to Belfast, with Garry Ringrose back in the starting XV at outside centre.

Johnny Sexton also returns to start for the first time since his 16-point haul against Munster in Aviva Stadium. Luke McGrath, who scored his fifth try of the season last time out against Edinburgh, starts at scrum-half to complete the half-back pairing.

Jamie Heaslip returns to make his sixth PRO12 start of the season in the back-row, alongside Rhys Ruddock and Josh van der Flier.

Devin Toner and Hayden Triggs are swapped into the second row in place of Ross Molony and Mick Kearney, with the latter named on the bench.

Richardt Strauss is retained in the front row, with Jack McGrath coming in to replace Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong starting in place of Mike Ross, who is among the replacements.

Form: This is a must win game for Ulster if they wish to claim a home play-off spot. The Ulstermen’s only defeat in the last four rounds of Guinness PRO12 was to Glasgow at Scotstoun in round 18, whilst their only defeat at Kingspan Stadium since early January was 20-21 to Scarlets in round 15. Leinster’s last five Guinness PRO12 fixtures have all gone in favour of the home side on the day whilst the Leinstermen have won five of their last eight away games in the competition. Leinster’s only defeat in their last seven PRO12 encounters with Ulster was 10-26 in this equivalent fixture in Belfast.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Peter Browne, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Andrew Warwick, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Darren Cave

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Isa Nacewa (c), 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Luke Fitzgerald

Date: Saturday, April 30
Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Leo Colgan (Ireland)
TMO: Seamus Flannery (Ireland)

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