Planet Rugby

Preview: Ulster v Leinster

19th April 2012 12:27

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Paddy Wallace ulster v clermont

At centre: Paddy Wallace

Ulster have recalled a number of front-line players to their starting XV for Friday's RaboDirect PRO12 match against rivals Leinster at Ravenhill.

Brian McLaughlin has made nine personnel changes and a further two positional switches to the team which lost 26-21 to Connacht last weekend, but there is no place for rested Ireland internationals Stephen Ferris and Rory Best.

Willie Faloon, Nigel Brady, Lewis Stevenson, Tom Court, Stefan Terblanche and Paddy Jackson are the survivors from the XV that started in Galway.

Jackson has moved from inside centre to fly-half in place of Ian Humphreys, with Paddy Wallace occupying the vacated spot in midfield alongside regular partner Darren Cave. Ruan Pienaar and Andrew Trimble also return to a starting jersey.

Up front, Court is named in his more familiar loosehead prop position, after starting in the tighthead role at the Sportsground.

Declan Fitzpatrick will wear the number 3 jersey after making a welcome return from a neck injury - his first taste of action in almost five months.

Johann Muller has returned to captain the side from second row where he is partnered by Stevenson, while Pedrie Wannenburg and Chris Henry are recalled to the back row alongside Faloon.

Meanwhile, Leinster have named thirteen Ireland qualified players in the starting XV including scrum-half Eoin Reddan, who is making his 60th Leinster appearance. Reddan will link up once again with Jonathan Sexton at half-back for the trip to Belfast.

Luke Fitzgerald is named in a back-three alongside the Kearney brothers. Unfortunately, Eoin O'Malley was a late withdrawal after a recurrence of his calf strain forced him from the training field, thus Fergus McFadden - who makes his 70th Leinster appearance - will partner Brian O'Driscoll at centre.

Up front, Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross start in the front-row, with All Black Brad Thorn locking down alongside skipper Leo Cullen. Kevin McLaughlin joins Dominic Ryan in the back-row alongside the returning Sean O'Brien who starts at number eight.

If Ireland scrum-half Isaac Boss, one of four Ireland internationals on the bench, is used as a replacement it will be his 50th provincial appearance.

Form: Ulster's defeat at Connacht in round 20 ended a four game winning run in the RaboDirect PRO12. The Ulstermen's only defeat at Ravenhill in their last 20 matches in all competitions was to Treviso on 17 October. Leinster have already ensured top seeding and a home semi-final in the RaboDirect PRO12. The Leinstermen have suffered just one reversal in any competition since September: 22-23 at home to Ospreys on 23 March. A Leinster win would ensure a first clean sweep by an Irish province in a season - winning all six inter-Provincial clashes. Ulster's only victory over Leinster in their last 16 meetings since May 2004 was 16-14 at Ravenhill on 24 October 2009.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Chris Henry, 5 Lewis Stevenson, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Neil McComb, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Adam D'Arcy.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 David Kearney, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Fergus McFadden, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Sean O'Brien, 7 Dominic Ryan, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Brad Thorn, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Nathan White, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fionn Carr.

Date: Friday, April 20
Kick-off: 19:05 BST
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Ollie Hodges (Ireland)
Television match official: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)

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