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

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

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

Preview: Ulster Rugby v Ospreys

Andrew Lawton 12 Apr 2018

Ulster and Ospreys still have plenty to play for ahead of their Guinness PRO14 clash, with European and Final Series’ places up for grabs.

What’s at stake?

Ulster put themselves firmly back in the race for a semi-final spot with victory over Edinburgh Rugby in Round 19.

Still with a game in hand, the Irish province can keep up the pressure on the top-two in Conference B with victory over Ospreys.

The in-form Welshman, who have lost just one of their last seven PRO14 fixtures, need points to boost their claim for European qualification.

Team news (Ulster)

There are four changes in the Ulster pack as they bid to follow up last weekend’s victory over Edinburgh.

Callum Black and Ross Kane come into the front row, either side of captain Rory Best.

Kieran Treadwell starts in the second row with Sean Reidy named at No8, meaning a switch to openside flanker for Jean Deysel.

Louis Ludik, who suffered a back injury against Edinburgh, has been past fit to play in an unchanged backline.

Team news (Ospreys)

Interim head coach Allen Clarke has made three changes to the side that started last week’s 39-10 defeat of Connacht.

Centre Owen Watkin comes in for Ashley Beck, while Guy Mercer and Ma’afu Fia drop down to the bench to be replaced by Adam Beard and Dmitri Arhip respectively.

Justin Tipuric and Tom Williams remain unavailable as the pair represent Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Back row Alun Wyn Jones captains Ospreys in his 150th PRO14 appearance.

Talking points

Ospreys interim head coach Allen Clarke said: “We’ve had some really positive results and performances at the Liberty Stadium in recent weeks that have put us in a position where we are firmly in control of our own destiny.

“The challenge for us now is to keep that going with three difficult away games coming up to end the regular season, but we know the reward that is there for us potentially.

“Collectively we have the utmost respect for Ulster. They picked up an impressive win last weekend and they have their own reasons for needing the victory. It’s an important game for both teams.

“We know what we have to do, every game is crucial now, but we have to enjoy the challenge.

“The outlook in the squad is positive, there’s a collective belief in what we are trying to do, and an understanding of what in in store for us in Belfast on Friday night.

“It’s going to be tough, there’ll be a big passionate crowd there as there always is, and we fully respect the challenge ahead.”

Key battle – Jean Deysel v Sam Cross

Jean Deysel was supreme for Ulster last weekend, winning four turnovers and making 18 carries in the defeat of Edinburgh.

The 33-year-old Springbok performed his heroic at No8, but this weekend switches to the flanks to make room for Sean Reidy.

Opposite number Sam Cross spent much of the first part of the season on the Ospreys sidelines, but has been impressive in the back row in recent weeks. And their head-to-head could decide this one.

Key stat: Ospreys are top of the form table in the last six PRO14 matches, having accumulated 24 points.

Did you know? Ulster last lost at home to Ospreys in February 2013, the only defeat in the Welsh province’s previous seven visits.

Ulster: Charles Piutau, Louis Ludwik, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny McPhillips, John Cooney; Callum Black, Rory Best (c), Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson, Matthew Rea, Jean Deysel, Sean Reidy

Replacements: Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Luke Marshall, Tommy Bowe

Ospreys: Dan Evans, Jeff Hassler, Kieron Fonotia, Owen Watkin, Hanno Dirksen, Dan Biggar, Tom Habberfield; Nicky Smith, Scott Otten, Dmitri Arhip, Bradley Davies, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Sam Cross, James King

Replacements: Ifan Phillips, Rhodri Jones, Ma’afu Fia, Lloyd Ashley, Guy Mercer, Matthew Aubrey, Sam Davies, James Hook

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

AR1: Joy Neville (IRFU) AR2: John Carvill (IRFU)

TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)

TV: BBC NI and BBC Wales

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, visithttp://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

Late Stockdale try seals Ulster win over valiant Ospreys

Jimmy Booker 13 Apr 2018

Jacob Stockdale’s last-minute try sealed victory for Ulster Rugby as they edged past an Ospreys side who were dogged in defence from first whistle to last.

It wasn’t the highest scoring encounter of the season, finishing 8-0 to the Ulstermen, but that’s not to say there was a lack of effort on both sides as Ospreys tackled their hearts out against wave after wave of Ulster attack.

John Cooney’s third-minute penalty opened the scoring early on, but it was a blank opening period from there on in.

Ulster dominated the opening exchanges but could not turn mountains of possession into a try with Dan Biggar clearing Ospreys’ lines after a lengthy passage of play for the home side.

Stockdale looked set to cross for the first try of the match on 15 minutes, only to be sensationally denied by a try-saving tackle by lock Bradley Davies, who seized the speedster’s jersey metres from the line and stopped him in his tracks.

Biggar, who made 22 tackles from fly-half, had a golden chance to level the match soon after but sent a 25-yard penalty wide of the target.

Ospreys defended stoutly and thought they had gone ahead on the half-hour when Kieron Fonotia charged across the Ulster line after a turnover, but the officials chalked it off for an alleged earlier infringement by Alun Wyn Jones, blindside flanker for the evening and making his 150th appearance for the Welsh side.

Ulster started the second period the way they did the first, with plenty of territory and possession – one passage of play ending with Charles Piutau passing into touch from the back of the hand following a five-metre scrum.

Superb defensive work from Jones, Sam Cross and Tom Habberfield then keep Iain Henderson from crashing over as Ospreys threw body after body in the way of Ulster’s increasing threats.

The Kingspan crowd thought they had finally seen the first try of the evening ten minutes from time, but the TMO denied Nick Timoney his five points as last-ditch work from Owen Watkin saw him lose control of the ball at the key moment.

But the home fans did get their score as the clocked ticked into overtime, Stockdale racing over for an unconverted score after he gathered a misdirected pass from Biggar near the halfway line before sprinting clear.

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 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