The Ulster and Leinster ‘A’ teams meet tonight (Tuesday) at Banbridge RFC (kick-off 6.30pm) in a pre-Christmas friendly clash. Click here for team news.
…Prop Justin Fitzpatrick is tackled by Kyran Bracken and Ben Russell during Ulster’s 18-10 Heineken Cup Pool Four defeat by Saracens last Saturday…
The Ulster and Leinster’A’ teams meet tonight (Tuesday) at Banbridge RFC (kick-off 6.30pm) in a pre-Christmas friendly clash.
The Rifle Park encounter is the second ‘A’ meeting between the provinces this season – Leinster won a ten-try thriller 39-33 at Navan RFC in September. Ulster have incluced five fully-contracted players – prop Justin Fitzpatrick is looking for some game-time after returning from injury against Saracens last Saturday, while lock Rowan Frost, who was suspended last month for a drugs offence, makes the home side’s bench.
Leinster boats former Ulster prop Ronan McCormack in their line-up with former rugby league player Johnny Hepworth a notable inclusion at fly-half. A number of AIB League regulars will also start for the visitors – Lansdowne’s Greg Stafford, Terenure duo Dave McAllister and Alex Dunlop and UCD quartet Eoghan Hickey, Brian O’Riordan, Simon Crawford and Kevin Croke.
The Ulster backline is made up wholly of players from Ballymena, Belfast Harlequins and Dungannon. The latter club’s young fly-half Gareth Steenson will be keen to impress.
Banbridge RFC President Johnty Mairs admitted Rifle Park was “an ideal venue” for the game. “Given our location on the A1 and the quality of the facilities which we have to offer, I think Rifle Park was an obvious choice,” he said.
“This is a very attractive fixture and we are expecting our biggest crowd for several seasons, given that both sides are likely to be packed with players on the fringe of the provincial sides.”
On what is sure to be a chilly evening, hot food and refreshments will be on sale at the ground.
ULSTER ‘A’: Mark Kettyle; Paul McKenzie, Scott Young, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Maxwell; Gareth Steenson, Reece Spee; Justin Fitzpatrick, Nigel Brady, John Andress, Henry Head, Lewis Stevenson, Chris Henry, Oisin Hennessy, Campbell Feather.
Replacements: Niall Conlon, Stuart Philpott, Rowan Frost, Ryan Caldwell, Paul Marshall, Shane Stewart, AN Other.
LEINSTER ‘A’: Eoghan Hickey; Gary Brown, Greg Stafford, David McAllister, Brendan Burke; John Hepworth, Brian O’Riordan; Ronan McCormack, David Blaney, Nick Duffy, Simon Crawford, Adam Byrnes, Kevin Croke, Niall Ronan, Alex Dunlop.
Replacements: Johnny Wickham, John Lyne, AN Other, Alex O’Sullivan, Matthew D’Arcy, Barry Lynn, James Norton.