Planet Rugby

Preview: Connacht v Ulster

18th April 2013 12:11

Share:

SKY_MOBILE Jared Payne - Ulster Heineken Cup

Full-back: Jared Payne

Ulster have made five personnel and two positional changes to the team that beat the Dragons at Ravenhill last week for Friday's clash with Connacht.

Jared Payne has recovered from the ankle knock that he suffered against Saracens and starts at full-back for the game at the Sports ground.

Chris Henry, Andrew Trimble and Paddy Jackson, who were rested against the Dragons also return.

In the only other personnel change, Lewis Stevenson starts in the second-row, with Iain Henderson named as a substitute.

The positional changes see Tommy Bowe switch from the right wing to the left, and Ruan Pienaar moving from fly-half to scrum-half.

Johann Muller and John Afoa are named on a strong bench, as is Paul Marshall who will make his 100th appearance for the province if he comes on.

Meanwhile, Connacht make no changes to the team that defeated Edinburgh 32-24 at Murrayfield last week.

Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin and Ronan Loughney make up the front-row trio with a total tally of 429 Connacht caps between them.

21-year-old Kieran Marmion, who has started every game this season, remains in the half-back pairing with Dan Parks.

March 'Player of the Month' Brian Murphy is named at first centre for his fifth Connacht start this year.

"We were obviously happy with last week's win. It was a very good victory for us but we're not getting carried as it means nothing if we can't back it up and have consistency now in this derby match against Ulster," said head coach Eric Elwood.

"We have a point to prove in that were nilled up in Belfast and that's a big incentive. We were disappointed with our away performances in the derby fixtures so we have another opportunity for four points here.

"We're looking forward to a physical contest. You can't shy away from the physicality. You have to be able to go toe-to-toe, up front with Ulster and you have to be able to control the break down area. And that's key this weekend. And we'll have the extra spice of the derby game at home. They're looking for top four and we still believe we have a lot to play for with three to go. So it should be ding dong."

Form: Connacht's solitary reversal in their last five RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures was 0-22 to Munster in Cork on 23rd March. Connacht have won all four matches played at the Sportsground in all competitions in 2013. Connacht's only win over a fellow Irish province this season came in round 5 when they beat Leinster 34-6 in Galway. Ulster returned to the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table with their 31-5 victory at home to Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday. The Ulstermen's only away victory in their last four trips in all competitions was 22-18 over Leinster at RDS on 30th March. Ulster have lost just once against a fellow Irish province this season: 10-24 in Munster on 29th December. Connacht's only win in their last 13 PRO12 contests with Ulster was 26-21 in this equivalent fixture at the Sportsground last season.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Brian Murphy, 11 Gavin Duffy (capt), 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 John Muldoon, 6 Mick Kearney, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 Mata Fifita, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 John Afoa, 19 Johann Muller, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Peter Nelson.

Date: Friday, April 19
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Barrie O'Connell (Ireland)
Television match official: Sean Flannery (Ireland)
Citing Commissioner: Eugene Ryan (Ireland)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle vs Sale15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Lyon vs Montpellier18:00
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:00
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821