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: Ulster v Connacht

James Andrew 5 Oct 2017

On Friday night Ulster host Connacht in the first Irish derby of the season in an important inter-conference match at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. The game, which kicks off at 7.35pm, pits two sides fresh from defeats looking to bounce back against one another.

What’s at stake: Connacht go in search of a win to arrest their current run of three straight losses but they will come up against an Ulster team eager to bounce back from last weekend’s loss against Zebre and armed with a record of nine wins from their last 10 fixtures against the Galway outfit.

Team news (Ulster):
Captain Chris Henry returns to the side in the back row, where he will be joined by Iain Henderson and Jean Deysel. Kyle McCall, Rob Herring and Wiehahn Herbst come in to occupy the front row positions, with Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell named in the second row.

John Cooney and Christian Lealiifano are retained as the half-backs and will steer an all-international backline. Stuart McCloskey is back in midfield alongside Luke Marshall, with Jacob Stockdale and Tommy Bowe selected on the wings and Charles Piutau at full-back.

Team news (Connacht): Scrum-half Kieran Marmion will make his 100th Championship appearance for Connacht.

Head coach Kieran Keane includes captain John Muldoon and Ireland international Marmion in the starting XV along with Matt Healy as the winger has recovered from a groin injury.

Tiernan O’Halloran moves to full-back having scored two tries against Scarlets last time out with Cian Kelleher, also a try-scorer last week, on the right wing.

Talking points:

All eyes will be on Ulster to see how they respond to their 27-23 defeat by Zebre last time out.

Director of rugby Les Kiss has made nine changes to the side that lost last weekend and will hope that Ulster’s excellent record against Connacht (P28 W23 D1 L4) will see them back to winning ways.

Key Battle: Luke Marshall vs Bundee Aki

Aki has played every single minute for Connacht so far this season and will come up against his soon-to-be international compatriot Marshall.

Marshall started two games for Ireland on the recent summer tour and comes up against a player who is now eligible to play for Ireland after completing three years’ residency in the country after signing from Super Rugby side the Chiefs.

Key Stat: Ulster have lost just one of their last ten fixtures with Connacht, at the Sportsground in round 6 last season, whilst Connacht have not triumphed in Belfast since November 1960.

Did you know? Ulster have been defeated only twice by an Irish province in Belfast since May 2014, and both of those were to Munster.

Ulster: C Piutau, T Bowe, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale, C Lealiifano, J Cooney, K McCall, R Herring, W Herbst, A O’Connor, K Treadwell, I Henderson, C Henry, J Deysel

Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Ah You, R Diack, S Reidy, P Marshall, P Nelson, L Ludik.

Connacht: T O’Halloran, C Kelleher, B Aki, T Farrell, M Healy, J Carty, K Marmion, D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham, U Dillane, Q Roux, E McKeon, J Butler, J Muldoon

Replacements: D Heffernan, D Coulson, C Carey, J Cannon, E Masterson, C Blade, S Crosbie, E Griffin

TV: BBC Sport NI/TG4 (KO: 7.35pm)

Match Officials – Referee: Andy Brace (IRFU), AR1: Frank Murphy (IRFU), AR2: Paul Haycock (IRFU), TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon

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 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

Sublime Stockdale inspires Ulster against Connacht

Charlie Bennett 6 Oct 2017

Jacob Stockdale lit up Kingspan Stadium with a memorable score as Ulster returned to winning ways in a tense victory at home to Irish rivals Connacht.

The 21-year-old combined with Charles Piutau in the second half to cut through Connacht and secure a much-needed win for Les Kiss’ side.

Connacht huffed and puffed all night in Belfast but they could not repeat their vibrant attacking display against the Scarlets last week and fell to their fifth defeat this season.

The win moves Ulster top of Conference B,  although Scarlets and Leinster are still to play this weekend and could move above them on Saturday.

The home side arrived in Belfast off the back of a disappointing defeat to Zebre last week and head coach Kiss made multiple changes.

Chris Henry was recalled in the backrow, while experienced winger Tommy Bowe was one of three new faces in the backs alongside Stuart McCloskey and Stockdale.

It was a special day for Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion as he made his 100th appearance for the 2016 champions. They also welcomed back John Muldoon, Matt Healy and Tiernan O’Halloran.

Ulster started on the front foot with Bowe causing O’Halloran to fumble with a huge tackle in midfield but Connacht responded by forcing a penalty from a scrum.

The home side threatened the try line first as McCloskey and Iain Henderson carried forwards powerfully but the ball was lost ten metres out, before Stockdale darted down the outside but could not find an inside runner.

Ulster were first on the score as Cooney notched a penalty but Connacht hit back five minutes before the break through Tom McCartney powering his way over for a try from close range.

In a tight game any mistake was likely to be pounced upon and Cooney scored his second penalty after the break to regain Ulster the lead.

The two sides then exchanged penalties after the break before Ulster sent the home fans wild with a stunning try.

Ulster had Connacht pinned inside their own ten-metre line before the visitors broke downfield, but they lost the ball and the home side pounced.

Stockdale threaded a pass through to Piutau and the New Zealander carved his way through Ulster’s defence before slipping in Stockdale to score.

There was no way back for Connacht after that and the home side saw it out for a priceless win, with their defence holding firm and repelling the visitors’ attack late on for their fifth win of the campaign.

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 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