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

Leinster host Ulster in battle between third and fourth

Guinness PRO14 Rugby Editor 31 Dec 2016
Roger Wilson

Leinster host Ulster at the RDS on New Year’s Eve at 3pm as both teams look to gather momentum heading into the New Year.

The Leinstermen are third after being toppled by Munster last week, while Ulster are on a high after three wins in four.

Ulster are fourth in the table, five points and one place behind their hosts.

What’s at stake?

Leinster will be looking to close the gap on Munster and Ospreys at the top of the table. Leo Cullen’s side are on 37 points from 11 games just three points behind the Welsh outfit, who sit second, and five behind their Irish counterparts.

Ulster, meanwhile, are on 32 points, but have a game in hand.

They have a poor record at the RDS in recent years, and will be wary that a loss will open the door for Scarlets and Glasgow to leapfrog them in the table.

Team news (Leinster Rugby):

Coach Leo Cullen makes 12 changes to his starting line-up, but Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton has failed to recover from a hamstring injury.

A completely new pack has been selected after their Boxing Day loss to Munster.

Their all-international back row is a strong one, with Sean O’Brien, Josh van der Flier and Jamie Heaslip featuring.

Team news (Ulster Rugby):

Andrew Trimble returns to the Ulster line-up after coming back from a foot injury sustained on international duty on November.

Les Kiss makes seven changes in all after Ulster’s 23-7 win over Connacht on December 23rd.

Talking points:

Both teams are missing key members of the squad, with Leinster missing international No.10s Jonathan Sexton and Joey Carbery. Ulster, meanwhile are without Ireland captain Rory Best.

Fly-half duties fall onto youngster Ross Byrne, who has a seasoned operator as his opposite number in South African Ruan Pienaar – with Paddy Jackson unavailable for Ulster.

Lions contenders: Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Tommy Bowe.

Leinster Rugby: Isa Nacewa (c); Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Noel Reid, Rory O’Loughlin; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Michael Bent; Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs; Sean O’Brien, Josh van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Andrew Porter, Jeremy Loughman, Mick Kearney, Jack Conan, Jamieson Gibson-Park, Tom Daly, Zane Kirchner.

Top Points Scorer:  Isa Nacewa 71pts. Top Try Scorer: Adam Byrne 5.

Ulster Rugby: Charles Piutau; Andrew Trimble, Stuart McCloskey, Darren Cave, Tommy Bowe; Ruan Pienaar, Paul Marshall; Andy Warwick, Rob Herring, Rodney Ah You; Keiran Treadwell, Franco van der Merwe; Clive Ross, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson.

Replacements: John Andrew, Callum Black, Jonny Simpson, Pete Browne, Chris Henry, Brett Herron, Louis Ludik, Jacob Stockdale.

Top Points Scorer:  Paddy Jackson 102pts. Top Try Scorer: Charles Piutau 3.

TV: Sky Sports 2 (KO 3.00pm)

Match officials – Referee: John Lacey (IRFU). Assistant Referee 1: Frank Murphy (IRFU). AR2: Joy Murphy (IRFU).TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU).

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:

Played 31, Leinster won 23, Ulster won 6 with 2 games drawn.

At RDS Arena, 3pm Live on Sky Sports
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU, 58th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy, Joy Neville (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Eugene Ryan (IRFU)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU)

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

O’Loughlin bags try double in comfortable Leinster win

Andrew Lawton 31 Dec 2016

Winger Rory O’Loughlin scored two tries as Leinster moved ahead of Ospreys into second in the Guinness PRO12 after a comfortable 22-7 victory over Ulster Rugby at the RDS.

Leinster are just a single point behind Munster after failing to secure a try bonus point with Jack McGrath receiving a yellow card midway through the second half.

But O’Loughlin crossed twice, with Luke McGrath also getting his name on the scoresheet, as Leinster put in a significantly improve display from their Boxing Day defeat to Munster.

Charles Piutau added a late consolation try for Ulster who dominated possession for most of the second period but struggled to break down the Leinster defence.

Pienaar, starting at fly-half rather than his usual scrum-half, missed a long-range penalty attempt three minutes in and Leinster took full advantage.

O’Loughlin broke through the middle of the Ulster defensive line on six minutes after the ball was released off the top of the line-out ball on half-way and raced in the corner.

Isa Nacewa converted well to give the hosts a 7-0 advantage inside the opening ten minutes before Pienaar again missed a second kick at goal.

And the Leinster skipper was on target again into the wind as he stretched the lead to ten points with a successful penalty after Ulster were penalised for a high tackle.

Winger Tommy Bowe almost got Ulster’s first points straight from the restart as Leinster failed to gather but the ball slipped from his grasps and the chance went begging.

Leinster had their second try with six minutes to play of the first half after an extremely inventinve line-out move on the edge of the Ulster 22.

Prop Jack McGrath received the line-out before feeding scrum-half Luke McGrath who raced through unopposed to extend the home side’s advantage at the RDS.

Nacewa was once again on target with his boot as he made the score 17-0 much to the delight of the majority of the sold out RDS crowd.

Leinster had their third try just four minutes into the second half as Ross Byrne put in a inch-perfect grubber kick behind Ulster and man 0f the match O’Loughlin collected and touched down for his second.

Ulster ramped up the pressure as they looked for a way back into the game and Leinster prop Jack McGrath was shown a yellow card by referee John Lacey for an infringement at the ruck.

But a loose pass from the resulting scrum was hacked clear by Nacewa and the visitors found themselves back inside their own half of the field.

Piutau finally got Ulster off the mark after taking a fine inside ball from Pienaar with three minutes remaining with the try converted by the scrum-half.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final

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