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: Leinster v Ulster

Charlie Bennett 5 Jan 2018

Leinster and Ulster were both on the right side of narrow victories last weekend and have started the New Year with a bang, making their battle one of the most intriguing of Round 13.

The two Guinness PRO14 heavyweights are locked in an intense battle for a top-four spot in Conference B and this match could go a long way to deciding where they finish.

What’s at stake? 

Aside from pride, this interpro derby match comes at an intriguing time of the campaign.

Leinster are perhaps the most in-form side of Europe and have lost just once in all competitions since the end of September.

However, they still sit just second in a tight Conference B behind defending champions Scarlets.

Ulster’s form has picked up more recently and Les Kiss’ men have lost just one of their last seven with that stirring comeback against Munster typifying their new-found resolve.

However, perhaps the most telling stat is that Ulster have won just one of their last 14 trips to the RDS Arena.

Team news (Leinster): 

Jack McGrath will lead Leinster out at the RDS Arena for the first time on his 123rd appearance for the club.

Ireland duo Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose form a potent centre partnership, while Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne are in at half-back.

Byrne comes in for Jonathan Sexton, who is relegated to the bench while academy player Josh Murphy starts for the second time in Leinster colours in the back row.

Team news (Ulster): 

Rory Best is back from injury to lead Ulster for the first time in a month at the RDS Arena.

The Ireland hooker was out with an ankle injury and has not featured since facing the Dragons at the start of December.

Lock Peter Browne will start for the first time since September, while Darren Cave, who scored a try and got an assist against Munster on Monday, lines up again in midfield.

Talking points:

Sean Reidy said: “You look at Leinster’s squad across the board and they’ve got a lot of internationals and a lot of good players.

“It’s plain and simple, if we don’t turn up it will be a long day at the office but the boys are ready.

“The boys are pumped, the boys are going to take a good and physical attitude down there.

“We’ve got to be as prepared as we can and focus on ourselves, we know they’re going to be good whoever they put in their back row or pack.” Leinster assistant coach John Fogarty said: “Sean (O’Brien) is unavailable for this week, that’s as far as it goes at the moment.

“We’re not going to risk it.

“For Adam (Byrne) it has been a frustrating time for him and us, we want him out there. It has taken time, he is back on his feet and up and at it.”

Key battle: Ross Byrne v Christian Lealiifano

The battle at fly-half is key to any rugby match but this one is enough to get mouths watering.

Ross Byrne may be Johnny Sexton’s understudy at Leinster but he has proven to be invaluable this season with an array of excellent crossfield kicks setting up six tries.

He comes up against Ulster’s Christian Lealiifano, who has made a positive impact since joining in the summer.

The 30-year-old Australian is a wily veteran and will seriously test Byrne’s credentials.

Key stat: 

Leinster have lost only one of their last four fixtures with Ulster: 13-17 in Belfast last May.

Did you know? 

Leinster have lost only once in all competitions since the end of September – going down 21-31 at Glasgow in Round 8 of the Guinness PRO14.

Leinster: Jordan Lamour, Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Barry Daly, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park, Jack McGrath, James Tracy, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy, Jordi Murphy, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Ed Byrne, Andrew Porter, Mick Kearney, Max Deegan, Nick McCarthy, Johnny Sexton, Noel Reid.

Ulster: Charles Piutau, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Christian Lealiifano, Jonny Stewart, Callum Black, Rory Best (C), Rodney Ah You, Peter Browne, Iain Henderson, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Jean Deysel.

Replacements: Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Wiehahn Herbst, Alan O’Connor, Nick Timoney, John Cooney, Johnny McPhillips, Tommy Bowe

Match officials – Referee: George Clancy (IRFU), AR1: Joy Neville (IRFU), AR2: Shane Kierans (IRFU), TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU)

TV: Sky Sports, TG4, BBC Sport NI

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.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

Larmour dazzles as six-try Leinster cruise past Ulster

Charlie Peat 6 Jan 2018

A fine brace from Fergus McFadden and Jordan Larmour helped Leinster cruise past rivals Ulster to make it five straight Guinness PRO14 victories.

Barry Daly and Johnny Sexton also went over in a brilliant home performance which keeps Leinster neck-and-neck with Scarlets at the top of Conference B.

Ulster made a disastrous start in their first match of 2018 against Munster and they repeated that trick by conceding a try within five minutes.

Wing Larmour has been enjoying a delightful season for Leo Cullen’s men and showed off his silky footwork once more – sidestepping the Ulster defence to dot down.

Leinster had Ulster on the ropes and Daly was on hand to cross the whitewash as he beat his man with a fine burst of pace to thunder over in the left corner.

Munster certainly felt the wrath of Ulster as they let a 17-0 slip over Les Kiss’ men on New Year’s Day but Leinster were in no mood to be so generous.

Seven minutes into the second half Leinster applied the pressure as the ball found its way to McFadden who produced a brilliant side-step on his way to the try line.

And the 31-year-old didn’t have to wait long for his second of the afternoon and was all down to the superb work of Andrew Porter.

The prop thundered his way past three defenders before laying it off to McFadden who turned on the afterburners to burst clear of the Ulster defence and give Leinster their fourth of the evening.

Larmour was eager to get involved again and it came from another good turnover by Cullen’s men as the wing burst clear for his second of the afternoon.

It had been a chastening afternoon for Ulster who were simply overpowered by the constant menace of Leinster.

But they did finally get themselves on the scoreboard with seven minutes to play courtesy of Jacob Stockdale.

A fine break from Tommy Bowe in the midfield relieved pressure as the ball was then recycled to Stockdale who sniped over for Ulster’s first try of the afternoon.

But it was mere consolation as Leinster found time to notch up their sixth try of the afternoon thanks to Johnny Sexton in the 81st minute before adding the extras himself.

Leo Cullen will be delighted with the way his side killed off Ulster in the second period and means they haven’t lost in the league since Round 8 against Glasgow Warriors.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.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