Match Preview: Ulster Rugby vs. Exeter Chiefs

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Match Preview: Ulster Rugby vs. Exeter Chiefs

Post by ADM » Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:36 pm

[tag=image]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/f ... s_logo.png[/tag][tag=content]Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, giant bear mascots of all ages, we are back for a new season of rugby!

Much like Mac, a one-year contract extension has been penned with the powers that be and so I return for another season of match previews, match reports and big news stories. As was the case last season I would greatly appreciate any feedback that you may have on what I have written or anything that you wish for me to include throughout the year – simply drop me a PM!

So without further ado, let’s get stuck straight into the new campaign!

First of all let’s do a little bit of recapping because although our beloved Ulstermen have taken a break since May, the background operations of the province have proceeded and there have been some very big changes at Ravenhill – well, actually that’s probably where I should start…

Alright yes, we all will still call it Ravenhill, but officially we will be watching Ulster play at the Kingspan Stadium on a regular basis. Like it or not for whatever various reasons you will throw at me, the bottom line is that selling the naming rights to the stadium has provided a lot of investment for our organisation as a whole and it is something that was going to happen eventually.

Meanwhile, there’s a new kit for the team to go with the new name at Ravenhill, one of which will make its debut at the Kingspan tomorrow night, and it is certainly turning a lot of heads. Forget those traditional colours for the alternate jersey, we’re going purple this season! Again, I’m taking no sides over how good it looks, but it’s certainly new and nobody can fault Kukri for at least trying something new!

And finally, and probably most importantly, there are plenty of new personnel taking up places at Ulster Rugby, and plenty of faces that are departing. On the field it is a heartfelt goodbye to Johann Muller, Stephen Ferris and Paddy Wallace, while behind the scenes two big names depart the province in Mark Anscombe and David Humphreys. However on the way in are Franco van der Merwe, Wiehahn Herbst and Louis Ludik from abroad, while Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss will oversee coaching duties for the year.

I won’t dwell too long on that due to the fact that I haven’t even mentioned tomorrow night’s match yet, however there will be plenty of theories over Humphreys and Anscombe’s controversial departures from the Emerald Isle, but all I can say is that that is in the past and we as fans must move on and get behind the players and coaching staff ahead of a huge season for our boys.

Sure who knows, maybe it is for the best – we are getting an international coach for a year!

But anyway, no point in lingering on the summer’s events and time to look ahead to a tasty pre-season friendly against English side the Exeter Chiefs, a game that will see the return of three ex-pats in Gareth Steenson, Ryan Caldwell and Ian Whitten to their old stamping ground. Exeter are one of the few English sides that can be admired, especially due to their rags-to-riches story and it will be an exciting night as we face them for the first time.

We all know that these pre-season games aren’t going to provide the same excitement as a league or Heineken Cup (sorry, Champions’ Cup) game, but in some ways they can be just as good as both coaches tend to simply want to see some good running rugby and get some moves going. In many ways, the best rugby can sometimes be played before the season begins!

So come one, come all, the time has come for us to don our white jerseys and Stand Up for another season of rugby at Ulster Rugby HQ! There’ll be 16,500 Ulster fans packing out the Kingspan Stadium for a pre-season friendly, it’s the return of Friday night rugby and there’s the prospect of a brand new season where just about anything is possible.

Boy it’s good to be back!

Ulster Rugby vs. Exeter Chiefs
Friday 22nd August, 19:30
Kingspan Stadium
Friendly

ULSTER RUGBY
15. Ricky Andrew, 14. Rory Scholes, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Michael Allen, 11. Jacob Stockdale, 10. Ian Humphreys, 9. Paul Marshall; 1. Callum Black, 2. John Andrew, 3. Declan Fitzpatrick, 4. Alan O'Connor, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 6. Charlie Butterworth, 7. Sean Reidy, 8. Roger Wilson (c).

Replacements: Kyle McCall, Jonny Murphy, Andrew Warwick, Ruaidhri Murphy, Bronson Ross, Wiehahn Herbst, Lewis Stevenson, Neil McComb, James Simpson, Conor Joyce, Clive Ross, Mike McComish, Frank Taggart, Josh Atkinson, Michael Heaney, Dave Shanahan, Ross Adair, Jack Owens, Sean O'Hagan.

EXETER CHIEFS
15. Phil Dollman, 14. Tom James, 13. Ian Whitten, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Matt Jess, 10. Henry Slade, 9. Haydn Thomas; 1. Ben Moon, 2. Jack Yeandle (c), 3. Moray Low, 4. Ryan Caldwell, 5. Damien Welch, 6. Mitch Lees, 7. Tom Johnson, 8. Thomas Waldrom.

Replacements: 16. Elvis Taione, 17. Carl Rimmer, 18. Tomas Francis, 19. Don Armand, 20. Ben White, 21. Will Chudley, 22. Gareth Steenson, 23. Chrysander Botha, 24. Brett Sturgess, 25. Greg Bateman, 26. Alex Brown, 27. Sireli Naqelevuki, 28. James Scaysbrook, 29. Stuart Townsend, 30. Ceri Sweeney, 31. Adam Hughes.[/tag]

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