Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Munster v Ulster

Andrew Lawton 27 Apr 2018
JJ Hanrahan, Munster

Munster welcome Ulster to Thomond Park on Saturday evening in a game which could prove crucial to the visitors’ hopes of reaching the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.

What’s at stake?

Ulster – fourth in Conference B – know a five-point win is a must if they’re to secure a place in the last Guinness PRO14 Final Series slot with other results going their way.

A defeat without a losing bonus point for Edinburgh, who face Glasgow, would be ideal scenario for Ulster as they look to sneak above the Scots and into third.

Munster have already qualified and are certain to finish second in Conference A but will be looking to get back to winning ways after their European exit last weekend.

Team news (Munster)

Mike Sherry and James Cronin will both earn their 100th Munster caps this weekend with the former leading the side out for the first time since 2013.

Stephen Fitzgerald makes his second start of the season at full-back while Duncan Williams is fit after his recent injury to take his spot at scrum-half.

Team news (Ulster)

Rory Best returns to the captain the side from hooker with fellow British & Irish Lion Iain Henderson included in the engine room

Dave Shanahan starts at scrum-half with John Cooney ruled out while Charles Piutau is also missing, for family reasons, so Louis Ludik starts at full-back.

Talking points

Ulster coach Jono Gibbes said: “Anyone that’s ever been down there and played a Munster team at Thomond knows that you certainly don’t go with a mindset of getting four tries against them easily.

“They’re formidable opponents and a proud team down there, whoever pulls on that red jersey. It’s a big challenge for us.”

Munster head coach Johann van Grann added: “Ever since I came here, I saw how much Munster are in love with European rugby, what it means to the players, the management team and the supporters.

“The good thing is that the team spoke about it this morning and said we need to move on. We had a dream of winning both trophies.

“Unfortunately one is out of our hands and there’s one still to go. It’s all about Ulster this week and then you’ve got to go to a quarter-final to get to a semi-final.”

Key battle – Stephen Fitzgerald v Louis Ludik

Ulster will miss the influential Piutau at full-back but have the experienced Ludik to step in as the last line of defence and launch counter-attacks.

With the visitors desperate to score a try bonus point, they may look to target the inexperienced Stephen Fitzgerald who is making just his second start of the season.

Fitzgerald is a Munster academy graduate who will make his fifth appearance of the campaign on Saturday.

Key fact: Ulster beat Munster in Belfast in round 12 and have not achieved a season’s double over them since the 2013/14 season.

Did you know? The Munstermen’s only home defeat in any tournament since February 2017 was 24-34 to Leinster at Thomond Park on 26 December.

Munster: Stephen Fitzgerald, Calvin Nash, Sammy Arnold, Dan Goggin, Darren Sweetnam, JJ Hanrahan, Duncan Williams, James Cronin, Mike Sherry (C), Brian Scott, Gerbrandt Grobler, Darren O’Shea, Dave O’Callaghan, Conor Oliver, Robin Copeland.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Jack O’Donoghue, James Hart, Bill Johnston, Shane Daly.

Ulster: Louis Ludik, Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny McPhillips, Dave Shanahan, Callum Black, Rory Best, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney

Replacements: Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, Angus Curtis, Tommy Bowe.

TV: TG4, Sky Sports, BBC Sport NI

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU, 46th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Aled Evans, Simon Rees (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Eddie Walsh (IRFU)
TMO: Sean Brickell (WRU)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €35 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visit: http://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Best double not enough as Ulster held to Munster draw

Ross Lawson 28 Apr 2018

Rory Best’s double-try salvo proved not enough for Ulster to earn their place in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series after a tense draw with Irish rivals Munster.

The captain returned in some style with two tries before half-time whistle, knowing a bonus-point win combined with Edinburgh taking zero points from Glasgow would see them into third.

Stuart McCloskey had dotted down with five minutes but Duncan Williams, Brian Scott and Robin Copeland ensured Munster would not give up the fight, already into the Final Series.

And with 12 minutes to go Hanrahan’s penalty ensured the game came to an end in fitting style, a tense draw to round off the regular season.

Ulster needed a quick start but it was the home side who stole the march within two minutes, Williams pouncing on the loose ball after good work by Copeland.

But within two minutes Munster were pegged back as Jacob Stockdale – halted in his tracks by Darren Sweetman – was able to find McCloskey who duly touched down.

By then the track of the game was set, Munster prop Scott scoring his side’s second try of the evening.

Yet against the visitors responded in quick style as Best capitalised on a yellow card, scoring on a powerful driving maul by the forwards to crash over.

And on the stroke of half-time history repeated itself as Best was once again on the act, breaking off the back of the maul for Ulster’s third try of the half – keeping them in with a chance of securing the all-important bonus point win.

But Munster, guaranteed a home semi-final qualifier, were far from there to make up the numbers as they came out quicker in the second half, looking to haul back a 24-14 deficit.

They ate into that disadvantage too, Robin Copeland crashing over the whitewash on the hour mark with their Irish rivals down to 14 men ten minutes into the second half.

With six tries and six conversions, all that separated the two sides was a Johnny McPhillips penalty – with everything to play for in the closing 15 minutes.

But the three-point deficit was wiped out with out with just ten minutes to go, JJ Hanrahan finding his range from the tee.

From there it was all Ulster as the clock headed into the red at 24-24, but a stray line-out saw their chances slip away – now unable to catch Edinburgh in Conference B with just a spare of the spoils.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €50 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visithttp://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138