Match Preview: Union Bordeaux-Begles vs. Ulster Rugby

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Match Preview: Union Bordeaux-Begles vs. Ulster Rugby

Post by ADM »

[tag=image] ... x_logo.png[/tag][tag=content]Now would be a good time to put a pin in the PRO12 after that defeat to Connacht.

We were off-colour and, for the first time this season, defensively suspect, so ahead of Europe it was maybe best that we received a wake-up call. Because you definitely don't want to be going away to France in anything less than a fully-focused frame of mind.

So the domestic side of the game will take a seat for a second, and instead we have to take on the European beast once more. In some ways it's rather ironic that, having signed Charles Piutau and Marcell Coetzee to help us compete in Europe, neither will feature this weekend - Coetzee perhaps not at all.

In that case, step up Clive Ross! In fairness to him, he has performed above and beyond all expectations so far this season and this will be an intriguing test of how far his progression has come. He and Sean Reidy will have a big task on their hands keeping Loann Goujon and Kiwi openside Hugh Chalmers quiet - not an unenviable one it must be said.

Bordeaux are in an interesting place coming into this weekend. Like us dropping Tommy Bowe, they've made the interesting call of swapping in Jean-Marcellin Buttin for the Top14's former leading try scorer Metuisela Talebula at full-back. An injury crisis in the back row has led to former Wallaby lock Luke Jones having to fill in on the blindside. Raphael Ibanez has even stated publicly that they don't expect to do anything in the pool stages.

And yet they sit fifth in the Top14 table and come into the game on the back of three straight wins, although last week's victory over Brive was a little closer run than they would have liked, particularly with Brive sending the stereotypical weakened team away from home. So it is quite difficult to gauge what frame of mind they're in coming into the game.

But like all French teams, their interest in this competition can come and go at the snap of a finger. Perhaps if we had them in Belfast first it would have been a more favourable fixture list, but that's the hand we've been dealt and we have to work accordingly. If we get a win this week then hopefully Bordeaux's interest will be non-existent by the time they do come to the Kingspan and there's the potential for five points there.

That's for the future, however. Right now we have to focus on sending a huge statement to the rest of Europe with a win in France and, in such a tight pool, this would be a massive away victory that could be the difference between qualifying for the knockouts and not. We saw it last year, time to rectify that this year.

Bordeaux will be tough opponents, no doubt, but we have to back ourselves to do what we did in Castres, Montpellier, Oyonnax and Toulouse. If we do want to make significant strides in Europe this year, then we have to start right from the first whistle.

Win. At any cost.

The teams
In typical French fashion, Bordeaux opt for eight changes to their starting line-up, although most of them are enforced due to injury. In the backline former Clermont full-back Jean-Marcellin Buttin is preferred to Fijian flyer Metuisela Talebulamaijana, while Jean-Baptiste Dubié replaces the injured Julien Rey in midfield. Yann Lesgourgues is selected ahead of Baptiste Serin to partner Ian Madigan at half-back. Up front it's an all-new front row of Jefferson Poirot, Clement Maynadier and Vadim Cobilas, while injury to captain Louis-Benoit Madaule forces Luke Jones to blindside flanker, meaning Academy lock Cyril Cazeaux steps into the breach.

Eight changes for Ulster, with the return of co-captain Andrew Trimble to the wing the main inclusion. Trimble replaces Tommy Bowe, while there's a brand new centre partnership as Luke Marshall and Stuart Olding return from their respective injuries to replace the now-injured duo of Darren Cave and Louis Ludik. Ruan Pienaar starts at scrum-half after being rested against Connacht and the Ospreys. Up front Andy Warwick is the starter in this week's loosehead rotation, while Alan O'Connor and Franco van der Merwe are the lock pairing ahead of Robbie Diack and Pete Browne. Clive Ross is given the nod at openside once more, with Sean Reidy preferred to Roger Wilson at number eight.

Union Bordeaux-Begles vs. Ulster Rugby
Sunday 16th October, 13:00 (14:00 local)
Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas
European Rugby Champions Cup - Pool Match 1

15. Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 12. Romain Lonca, 11. Blair Connor, 10. Ian Madigan, 9. Yann Lesgourgues; 1. Jefferson Poirot, 2. Clement Maynadier, 3. Vadim Cobilas, 4. Jandre Marais, 5. Cyril Cazeaux, 6. Luke Jones, 7. Hugh Chalmers, 8. Loann Goujon (capt.).

Replacements: 16. Ole Avei, 17. Sebastien Taofifenua, 18. Marc Clerc, 19. Tom Palmer, 20. Marco Tauleigne, 21. Baptiste Serin, 22. Lionel Beauxis, 23. Metuisela Talebulamaijana.

15. Jared Payne, 14. Andrew Trimble (capt.), 13. Luke Marshall, 12. Stuart Olding, 11. Craig Gilroy, 10. Paddy Jackson, 9. Ruan Pienaar; 1. Andy Warwick, 2. Rory Best, 3. Rodney Ah You, 4. Alan O'Connor, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 6. Iain Henderson, 7. Clive Ross, 8. Sean Reidy.

Replacements: 16. Rob Herring, 17. Kyle McCall, 18. Ross Kane, 19. Pete Browne, 20. Roger Wilson, 21. Paul Marshall, 22. Jacob Stockdale, 23. Rob Lyttle.

Referee: J.P. Doyle (RFU)
Assistant Referees: John Meredith, Peter Allan (both RFU)
TMO: Graham Hughes (RFU)[/tag]
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