Celtic League action this evening sees Leinster and Ulster entertaining Welsh sides Newport and Neath respectively in the quarter-final of the competition.
Celtic League action this evening sees Leinster and Ulster entertaining Welsh sides Newport and Neath respectively in the quarter-final of the competition. Ulster kick off first at 7.05 with the Leinster game beginning a half hour later at 7.35. Both venues will should be packed with officials in both centres reporting a strong level of ticket sales.
Leinster, the only side already qualified for the quarter finals of the European Cup, have amassed a big reputation and rightly so and it’s the manner in which they have achieved an 11 game unbeaten run that is so impressive. They can play it wide and wonderful or they can now get down and dirty. Thesedays they tend to win games they shouldn’t whilst a short time ago they tended to lose games they really should have won. And credit here to coach Matt Williams for instilling the confidence that, added to the high skill level that was always there, now makes them such a formidable outfit.
This will be the third successive meeting of these sides and while Newport must still be wondering how they lost the last encounter in Rodney Road, they will also know that it will require an awesome effort to turn things around tonight in Donnybrook.
Leinster: G Dempsey; D Hickie, B O’Driscoll, S Horgan, G D’Arcy; N Spooner, B O’Meara; R Corrigan (capt), S Byrne, E Byrne, L Cullen, M O’Kelly, E Miller, V Costello, K Gleeson. Replacements: P Coyle, G Hickie, R Casey, T Brennan, B Willis, A Dunne, A Magro.
Newport: M Pini; M Mostyn, A Marinos, J Pritchard, B Breeze; S Howarth, D Burn; R Snow, J Richards, A Garvey, S Raiwalui, I Gough, P Buxton, A Powell, G Gravell. Replacements: C Anthony, P Young, M Voyle, J Powell, M Watkins, J Strange, AN Other.
Referee: S Lander (England)
The Welsh All Blacks, as Neath like to call themselves, have named a panel for tonight’s game against Ulster in Ravenhill because of injury to Andrew Millward (calf), Dave Tiueti (groin) and James Story (ankle). All are expected to be available, but John Slade is given no better than a 50/50 chance while Allan Bateman is definitely ruled out.
Ulster coach Alan Solomons is confident that both captain and flanker Andy Ward and hooker Paul Shields will not be hampered by recent injuries. Following their marvellous win last time out against Stade Francais the home side will start a warm order to advance to the semi finals. Neath’s victories in the competition so far include wins over Cardiff and Munster and that form alone makes them worthy of the highest respect. However in front of their now customary fanatical full house, Ulster can take a step closer to the December 15th final.
Ulster: P Wallace; J Topping, A Larkin, J Bell, T Howe; D Humphreys, N Doak; J Fitzpatrick, P Shields, S Best, M Blair, G Longwell, T McWhirter, R Nelson, A Ward (capt). Replacements: M Crick, C Boyd, J Davidson, N McMillan, K Campbell, R Constable, S Coulter.
Neath (from): G Morris, K James, J Storey, D Tiueti, S Williams, L Jarvis, A Moore, N Bonner Evans, B Sinkinson, A Mocelutu, G Llewellyn (capt), J Slade, R Phillips, A Millward, A Matthews, D Jones, A Howell, B Williams, P Jones, S Martin, S Tandy, S Connor, M Price.
Referee: T Spreadbury (England).