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Heineken Cup Preview: Stade Francais v Ulster

Heineken Cup Preview: Stade Francais v Ulster

Both Ulster and Stade Francais are out of quarter-final qualification but there will still be much to play for, including ranking points for next season’s tournament, when the sides clash at Stade Jean Bouin on Saturday. In-form Ulster are gunning for their third win in four Heineken Cup games.

HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 4: Saturday, January 24

STADE FRANCAIS v ULSTER, Stade Jean Bouin, 1.35pm Irish time/2.35pm local time

Team News: Ulster coach Matt Williams has named his team to take on Stade Francais in Saturday’s Heineken Cup Pool 4 encounter at Stade Jean Bouin.

Young flanker David Pollock will captain the Ulster side against Stade Francais, which will mean Kieron Dawson starts in Paris on the bench.

A number of rotational changes, aimed to give younger players more Heineken Cup experience, sees Ian Whitten replace Paddy Wallace, Niall O’Connor back at out-half in place of Ian Humphreys and Paul Marshall joining him at half-back.

Isaac Boss drops to the bench to provide scrum half cover, while Paul Steinmetz has replaced the rested Darren Cave in the centre.

In the forwards, Bryan Young has been called up in place of the benched Tom Court. Young will be joined in the front row by Nigel Brady and BJ Botha, who is back fully fit after missing Ulster’s fine win over Harlequins last weekend.

Matt McCullough also steps in for Stephen Ferris, who is currently on the province’s injury list along with regular captain Rory Best and influential centre Paddy Wallace.

Notably, Chris Henry, who made his tournament debut against ‘Quins, has held onto the number 8 jersey for the trip to France.

Previewing Saturday’s clash, Williams commented: “I’ve won in France and I’ve lost in France. It’s not about history, it’s about attitude.

“This talk that Ulster have never won in France, well we’ve just won in Limerick and we hadn’t done that for a long time.

“It’s irrelevant what’s gone before and it’s the attitude that the players take into the game.

“If they can take the attitude that they have taken into games so many times this year, both home and away, into the Paris game they’re in with a good shot.”

Stuart Philpott, Willie Faloon and Rob Dewey have all been recalled to the Ulster squad for the Stade tie, gaining places on the bench.

Meanwhile, Stade Francais’ regular captain Sergio Parisse is among the big names rested after last week’s defeat at the Scarlets which ended the French side’s hopes of making the next round.

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Argetinian play-maker Juan Martin Hernandez and experienced centre Brian Liebenberg also sit out the game while France hooker Dimitri Szarzewski starts on the bench.

Julien Arias is back on the wing as is former Australian rugby league star Mark Gasiner. Pierre Rabadan replaces Parisse in a back row which also includes Scottish international Simon Taylor.

STADE FRANCAIS: Guillaume Bousses; Julien Arias, Mathieu Bastareaud, Mark Gasnier, Djibril Camara; Lionel Beauxis, Noel Oelschig, Franck Montanella, Laurent Sempere, Sylvain Marconnet, Pierre Vigouroux, Robins Tchale Watchou, Mauro Bergamasco, Pierre Rabadan (capt), Juan Leguizamon.

Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, David Attoub, David Auradou, Sergio Parisse, Alexandre Albouy, Mirco Bergamasco, Nicolas Jeanjean.

ULSTER: Clinton Schifcofske; Andrew Trimble, Paul Steinmetz, Ian Whitten, Simon Danielli; Niall O’Connor, Paul Marshall; Bryan Young, Nigel Brady, BJ Botha, Ed O’Donoghue, Ryan Caldwell, Matt McCullough, David Pollock (capt), Chris Henry.

Replacements: Stuart Philpott, Tom Court, Kieron Dawson, Willie Faloon, Rob Dewey, Isaac Boss, Mark McCrea.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Touch Judges: Sean Davey, Kevin Stewart (both England)
Television Match Official: Graham Hughes (England)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Stade Francais to win: 1/16; Draw: 33/1; Ulster to win: 13/2

Pre-Match Quotes: Clinton Schifcofske (Ulster) – “It would be nice to finish with a win, the side is doing well and it’s a big opportunity for us. We’ve spoken about it and it’s definitely a goal, our form is good and we’re looking to put in a performance.

“It was a magnificent performance against ‘Quins but I have never played in worse conditions, hopefully we can build on that this week and for the rest of the Magners League campaign.

“We were a bit overwhelmed when we played Stade at the start of the tournament, but we have finished magnificently and we have a lot more confidence.

“Versatility is one of Stade’s strengths and they can move their players around, but our back-three have been doing a fantastic job and our two centres (Darren and Paddy) have been great.”

Heineken Cup Top Scorers – Current Season: Stade Francais: Tries: Guillaume Bousses 3; Points: Lionel Beauxis 31; Ulster: Tries: Paddy Wallace 3; Points: Ian Humphreys 33

Current Form – Stade Francais – (French Championship): Won 31-9 away to Dax; Won 27-22 at home to Mont de Marsan; Won 26-11 away to Perpignan; Won 19-13 away to Toulon; Won 37-16 at home to Brive; Won 32-25 away to Bourgoin; Won 34-16 at home to Montauban; (Heineken Cup): Won 26-10 away to Ulster; Won 37-15 at home to the Scarlets; (French Championship): Lost 26-13 at home to Toulouse; Lost 22-6 away to Clermont Auvergne; Lost 26-13 away to Montpellier; Won 19-12 at home to Castres Olympique; Won 32-12 away to Biarritz Olympique ; (Heineken Cup): Lost 15-10 at home to Harlequins; Lost 19-17 away to Harlequins; (French Championship): Won 35-8 at home to Bayonne; Won 56-15 at home to Dax; Won 13-6 away to Mont-de-Marsan; (Heineken Cup): Lost 31-17 away to the Scarlets

Ulster – (Magners League): Lost 16-9 at home to the Scarlets; Lost 16-15 away to the Cardiff Blues; Lost 16-14 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Lost 43-0 away to the Ospreys; Won 13-9 at home to Edinburgh; (Heineken Cup): Lost 26-10 at home to Stade Francais; Lost 42-21 away to Harlequins; (Magners League): Won 22-6 at home to Munster; (Friendly): Won 62-6 at home to Portugal; (Magners League): Won 53-13 at home to Connacht; (Heineken Cup): Won 26-16 at home to the Scarlets; Drew 16-16 away to the Scarlets; (Magners League): Lost 21-13 at home to Leinster; Won 37-11 away to Munster; Lost 21-15 away to Edinburgh; (Heineken Cup): Won 21-10 at home to Harlequins

Previous European Meetings: 8

Saturday, October 11, 2008 – Pool 4 – Ulster 10 Stade Francais 26, Ravenhill
Saturday, December 11, 2004 – Pool 6 – Ulster 18 Stade Francais 10, Ravenhill
Saturday, December 4, 2004 – Pool 6 – Stade Francais 30 Ulster 10, Stade Jean Bouin
Saturday, January 24, 2004 – Pool 1 – Stade Francais 13 Ulster 10, Stade Jean Bouin
Friday, December 12, 2003 – Pool 1 – Ulster 22 Stade Francais 20, Ravenhill
Friday, November 2, 2001 – Pool 2 – Ulster 19 Stade Francais 16, Ravenhill
Saturday, October 27, 2001 – Pool 2 – Stade Francais 40 Ulster 11, Stade Jean Bouin
Saturday, January 9, 1999 – Semi-Final – Ulster 33 Stade Francais 27, Ravenhill 

Heineken Cup Records:

Stade Francais –
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2006/07: Reached the quarter-finals
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2004/05: Runners-up
2003/04: Reached the quarter-finals
2001/02: Reached the quarter-finals
2000/01: Runners-up
1999/00: Reached the quarter-finals
1998/99: Reached the semi-finals

Ulster –
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2002/03: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
1998/99: Champions
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool B
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool C
1995/96: Failed to qualify from Pool B

IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Stade Francais to win by less than 7 points