12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Following on from their victory in Donnybrook on Friday night, Gary Ella's Leinster Lions move to 4th in the table, just five points behind second placed Ulster who will be disappointed that they failed to make much impression on an understrength home side on Friday.
The game was to all extents over when Ulster scored two late tries although they did help secure a valuable bonus point. Afterwards Ulster coach Alan Solomons pointed to a weather-disrupted preparation as a mitigating factor in his side's performance but he must have forgotten that Gary Ella spent the early part of the week watching over the hedge as most of his squad were trained by national coach Eddie O'Sullivan. Then, having selected a side that excluded Eric Miller and Girvan Dempsey, Ella was forced to re-arrange on the day of the game with the withdrawal of Christian Warner, Brian O'Driscoll, Shane Horgan and Keith Gleeson. After the game on Friday, of the two coaches Ella will have had most to smile about.
Munster are back in 7th spot, three behind Leinster and a whopping nine points off the pace set now by Llanelli Scarlets. It's a lot of ground to make up particularly because as the season goes on, those above them will improve.
Mike Ruddock's Gwent Dragons have yet to be beaten at home and last weekend they took full points from their away trip to Scotland where they beat The Borders 38-15.
Every bit as impressive was the Scarlets' 28-15 in Stradey Park over Neath-Swansea Ospreys and when the League resumes on February 6th the Scarlets will be in Ravenhill for a clash with Ulster while Leinster Lions will be in Wales for an equally crucial clash with Ruddock's Dragons. On the resumption, Munster look to have the easiest task at home to The Borders (Musgrave Park) and the following week (13th) there will be a full house at the Cork venue when Gary Ella brings down his Leinster Lions.
Connacht resume their Celtic League campaign with a difficult away game against Celtic Warriors (Saturday Feb. 7th) and that's followed a week later with an equally difficult engagement with Edinburgh at the Meadowbank Stadium.