Wind veering and freshening to the SW as the day goes on. Should be warm enough though - mid-teens with cloud cover, and little chance of rain. Porter will be a bit cold, and maybe a bit slow to arrive, but the presentation should be 1st class.
Preview: Connacht vs. Ulster
As Russ quite rightly pointed out earlier this week, someone once wrote a song about going west. I for one would be quite happy for somebody to write alternative lyrics to that song, especially orientated around a sports team…
So anyway, enough about singing – we head into this Saturday’s match with our record reading zero from two. Now that the bad news is out of the way, at least our performance last Friday was a lot better than that in Newport. Had we played like we did against the Dragons and lost then a few questions would have been asked. However, last weekend was a vast improvement and although we couldn’t strike the killer blow, the control we exerted in the second half was impressive.
I said last week that winning wasn’t crucial. This week I’m not going to repeat that – this week is definitely a must win game. However, away to Connacht at the Sportsground in the swirling wind and rain is one of the toughest away matches in the league. Leinster were hammered there last season so it is a welcome reminder that Connacht should never be taken lightly. With the recruiting they have done over the summer, including the incredible capture of Pat Lam as head coach, they will be a different but better team altogether this season.
But we all know what Ulster can do. If we click we can be fantastic and I fully believe we were very close to doing so last week, we just couldn’t get over the line. Everything up to the line was superb, but when it came to getting over the whitewash, it proved to be one step too far. Some will argue it was the good Glasgow defence, some will argue that we simply weren’t good enough. Maybe both.
Back to the upcoming match though and how welcoming is it to see Craig Gilroy back on a teamsheet (albeit on the bench). Having terribly missed his finishing ability last Friday, Mark Anscombe will be greatly relieved that he can call upon the Ireland winger’s services. There are three changes to the Ulster side from the Glasgow match as Chris Henry returns to openside flanker in place of Sean Doyle and Iain Henderson comes into the second row for Dan Tuohy who is rested. Tom Court returns to the front row ahead of Callum Black. Robbie Diack makes a return to the bench after missing last week’s game, while Kyle McCall could be in line to make his first competitive appearance of the season off the bench as well.
As for the opposition, there’s a bit of a worrying sight as Craig Clarke will make his first competitive appearance for the western province at lock since joining from the Waikato Chiefs. Fionn Carr will also make his first appearance at wing after returning from Leinster in the summer in Connacht’s only back change from their defeat last week to Cardiff. Jake Heenan comes in for George Naoupu in the back row as well.
In a week fraught with Heineken Cup negotiations, Ireland squad announcements and Ruan Pienaar rumours, it’s good to get back to the rugby action. I’d say it’s a welcome distraction, but then again, sometimes Ulster cause the fans to get a few headaches anyway! Nevertheless, it’ll be a good match and hopefully there will be a large Ulster contingent making their way to Galway for the game (myself included!).
So whether you are heading down to the game or watching it in the comfort of your own home, get ready for what will be a very interesting interprovincial clash, possibly with Ulster’s Pro12 hopes on the line already…
15. Gavin Duffy, 14. Fionn Carr, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Eoin Griffin, 11. Matt Healy, 10. Dan Parks, 9. Kieran Marmion; 1. Brett Wilkinson, 2. Jason Harris-Wright, 3. Nathan White, 4. Michael Swift (c), 5. Craig Clarke, 6. Jake Heenan, 7. Willie Faloon, 8. John Muldoon.
16. Sean Henry, 17. Rodney Ah You, 18. Ronan Loughney, 19. Aly Muldowney, 20. George Naoupu, 21. Paul O’Donohoe, 22. Craig Ronaldson, 23. Danie Poolman.
15. Jared Payne, 14. David McIlwaine, 13. Darren Cave, 12. Luke Marshall, 11. Michael Allen, 10. Paddy Jackson, 9. Ian Porter; 1. Tom Court, 2. Rob Herring, 3. Declan Fitzpatrick, 4. Johann Muller (c), 5. Iain Henderson, 6. Roger Wilson, 7. Chris Henry, 8. Nick Williams.
16. Niall Annett, 17. Kyle McCall, 18. Ricky Lutton, 19. Lewis Stevenson, 20. Robbie Diack, 21. Paul Marshall, 22. James McKinney, 23. Craig Gilroy.
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU, 30th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Kieran Barry, John Carvill (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: John Cole (IRFU)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)
Match Thread: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=16421
Connacht Clan: http://www.connachtclan.com
Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:53 pm