The British & Irish Cup resumes this weekend, with Leinster and Munster hoping to maintain top spot in their respective pools, while Ulster Ravens are chasing a win that could edge them ahead of London Welsh in Pool C.
BRITISH & IRISH CUP: ROUND 3:
Friday, February 12 –
MUNSTER v NOTTINGHAM, Waterford Regional Sports Centre, 7pm
British & Irish Cup Current Form – Munster: WW; Nottingham: WW
British & Irish Cup Top Scorers – Munster: Points: 7 players with 5 points; Tries: Duncan Williams, James Coughlan, Tom Gleeson, Ian Nagle, Dave Kilcoyne, Danny Barnes, Ronan O’Mahony 1 each; Nottingham: Points: 3 players with 5 points; Tries: Andy Savage, Tim Usasz, Tim Streather 1 each
Preview/Team News: Munster have won both of their British & Irish Cup matches so far, beating Coventry 20-13 away from home, and Bristol 18-6 at Nenagh.
Nottingham are in fifth place in the RFU Championship table but have lost two of their last three games. Notts won their most recent away game, 39-0, at struggling Birmingham & Solihull Bees – this was their first away win since the trip to Heriot’s in round one of the British & Irish Cup.
Nottingham also won their other British & Irish Cup encounter, 14-3 at home to Neath. Munster and Notts have never met before.
Munster coach Anthony Foley has named a 26-man squad for Friday’s third round clash with Nottingham in Waterford.
The selected squad is made up of Academy, Sub-Academy and club players and also includes Munster players Ciaran O’Boyle, Barry Murphy and Danny Riordan.
Match tickets are available to buy online with more details here.
MUNSTER Squad (v Nottingham) – Backs (11): Paul Rowley, Conor Murray, Declan Cusack, Andrew Burke, Sean Scanlon (UCC), Ciaran O’Boyle, Eric Moloney (Dolphin), Ivan Dineen (UCC), Danny Barnes, Barry Murphy, Danny Riordan.
Forwards (15): Pa O’Regan, Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians), Stephen Archer, Ger Slattery (Young Munster), Mike Sherry, Sean Duggan (Shannon), James Ryan (UCC), Duncan Casey (Clanwilliam), Ian Nagle, Ed Kelly (UL Bohemians), Dave Foley, Neville Melbourne (Garryowen), Dave Sherry (Garryowen), Barry O’Mahony (Dolphin), Peter O’Mahony.
Referee: David Jones (Wales)
LLANELLI v ULSTER RAVENS, Parc y Scarlets, 7.15pm
British & Irish Cup Current Form – Llanelli: LL; Ulster Ravens: WW
British & Irish Cup Top Scorers – Llanelli: Points: Daniel Newton 20; Tries: Dale Ford, Jonny Lewis, Scott Williams, Andy Fenby 1 each; Ulster Ravens: Points: Niall O’Connor 21; Tries: Tommy Seymour 2
Preview/Team News: Llanelli have been victorious in their last two fixtures at home to Pontypridd and Ebbw Vale and find themselves in sixth spot in the WRU Principality Premiership league table.
Llanelli have lost both previous games in the British & Irish Cup – 19-16 at home to Aberavon and 36-24 at Bedford Blues.
Ulster Ravens have made the perfect start to their British & Irish Cup campaign, winning 29-3 at home to Bedford Blues and 32-21 on their visit to Moseley.
Ulster Ravens coach Neil Doak has named a 28-man squad for the vital trip to Llanelli on Friday.
Doak said: “We are all looking forward to the game this weekend and have managed to get through some great work thus far. The boys are really looking forward to another big away challenge.
“Llanelli are going well, they ran in eight tries last weekend against Ebbw Vale, so they are in a rich vein of form at the minute.
“Our away win in Navan last Thursday against Leinster was a great boost, we played some great rugby in very difficult conditions.
“Friday will be a good challenge for us, we have talked all year about our consistency away from home. We have to be on our guard and make sure we are solid at our set piece, play a bit of rugby and come back home with a victory.”
Doak is pleased that Robbie Diack returns to an Ulster squad after a long spell on the injury list, and Ryan Caldwell, Ed O’Donoghue, Ian Humphreys and Darren Cave all return from Ireland Wolfhounds duty.
ULSTER RAVENS Squad (v Llanelli) – Backs (14): Cillian Willis, Paul Marshall, Ian Porter, Niall O’Connor, Ian Humphreys, Ian Whitten, Michael Allen, Tommy Seymour, Mark McCrea, Timoci Nagusa, Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave, Jamie Smith.
Forwards (14): Paddy McAllister, Bryan Young, Adam Macklin, Justin Fitzpatrick, Declan Fitzpatrick, Andy Kyriacou, Nigel Brady, Neil McComb, Ryan Caldwell, Ed O’Donoghue, Willie Faloon, David Pollock, Thomas Anderson, Robbie Diack.
Referee: David Walker (Scotland)
Saturday, February 13 –
EXETER CHIEFS v LEINSTER, Sandy Park, 3pm
British & Irish Cup Current Form – Exeter Chiefs: LW; Leinster: WW
British & Irish Cup Top Scorers – Exeter Chiefs: Points: Danny Gray 9; Tries: Nic Sestaret, Michael Stubble, Chris Budgen 1 each; Leinster: Points: Shaun Berne 23; Tries: Michael Keating 1
Preview/Team News: Exeter Chiefs reside in second place in the RFU Championship table with a won 17, lost 3 record.
The Chiefs have won their last four games, while the only defeat in their last 26 matches at Sandy Park was a 25-16 loss to table toppers Bristol on December 27.
Leinster are at the top of Pool A having narrowly won both of their games so far, despite scoring just one try and conceding two. The province beat Plymouth away 16-13 and Cornish Pirates 12-10 at Donnybrook in the first two rounds.
Exeter and Leinster have never met before.
The Leinster squad to face the Exeter Chiefs in Saturday’s encounter at Sandy Park has been named. Ireland internationals Girvan Dempsey, Trevor Hogan, Bernard Jackman, Malcolm O’Kelly and Mike Ross have all been named in the province’s extended panel.
There is an exciting blend of youth and experience with Shaun Berne, who has an 80% success rate with the boot in the competition to date, named amongst the backs alongside the likes of Michael Keating, Niall Morris and Eoin O’Malley.
In the pack, Stan Wright joins the likes of Leinster Academy duo Ciaran Ruddock and Eoin Sheriff who have both shown impressive recent form.
Leinster coach Colin McEntee said: “Although we lost our ‘A’ game against Ulster (9-0) in Navan last week, there were positives for us not least in terms of our work-rate which was good, but our accuracy was not to the level that’s required.
“So that’s one area that we will looking for a marked improvement against Exeter this week.
“You can’t iron out rustiness training day in, day out so it was good to get a game under our belts because this week’s game will be a big test for us.
“Exeter are flying in their own league at present and although we know to expect a big physical test, they are a side with a lot of footballing ability as well.
“So we will need to be sharp and we will need to be clinical. We’re expecting to be able to bring in a few more experienced players this week which will be good in terms of the upcoming Magners League game against the Scarlets, but also in terms of keeping up our good form in this competition.
“Having won our first two games away to Plymouth and then at home to the Cornish Pirates we’re in a good place in our pool, but the majority of this squad hasn’t played together since November, whereas Exeter play week in, week out.
“They’re the best team we’ll play this season, so it will be a tough test. We were getting a run of form, but then came the break which was a bit frustrating if the truth be told, so we will need to be up to speed very quickly.”
LEINSTER Squad (v Exeter Chiefs) – Backs (12): Chris Keane, David Moore, Paul O’Donohoe, Ian Madigan, Shaun Berne, Kyle Tonetti, Eoin O’Malley, Simon Keogh, David Kearney, Girvan Dempsey, Niall Morris, Michael Keating.
Forwards (14): Stan Wright, Mike Ross, Ronan McCormack, Bernard Jackman, Richardt Strauss, Jason Harris-Wright, Trevor Hogan, Malcolm O’Kelly, Devin Toner, Ciaran Ruddock, Eoin Sheriff, Paul Ryan, Stephen Keogh, Jordi Murphy.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)