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British & Irish Cup: Round 5 Previews

British & Irish Cup: Round 5 Previews

While Leinster’s qualification hopes have been dashed by the Cornish Pirates, Munster can overtake Bristol Rugby and go through as Pool B winners if they gain a point from Friday’s match against Heriot’s. Meanwhile, Ulster Ravens need to beat Aberavon at Ravenhill on the same night to edge out London Welsh in Pool C.

The British & Irish Cup semi final draw will be made on Wednesday, March 24.

The first and third teams drawn will receive home advantage in the semi-finals on the weekend of April 23-25.

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A further draw will then take place between the two semi-finals to determine which of the potential finalists would be at home in the final on the weekend of May 14-16.


Wednesday, March 10 –


GAEL FORCE (6th) v LEINSTER (3rd), Bridehaugh, 7pm 

British & Irish Cup Current Form – Gael Force: LLLL; Leinster: WWWL
British & Irish Cup Top Scorers – Gael Force: Points: Chris Kinloch, Fraser McKenzie 5 each; Tries: Chris Kinloch, Fraser McKenzie 1 each; Leinster: Points: Shaun Berne 30; Tries: David Kearney 2

Leinster Results – Plymouth Albion 13 Leinster 16, Brickfields; Leinster 12 Cornish Pirates 10, Donnybrook; Exeter Chiefs 10 Leinster 22, Sandy Park; Leinster 6 Newport 10, Donnybrook 

Preview/Team News: Gael Force are still without a win in the British & Irish Cup having been defeated by the Cornish Pirates (29-8), Exeter Chiefs (15-0), Newport (27-5) and Plymouth Albion (25-0).

Following Leinster’s recent Donnybrook loss to Newport and the Pirates’ 26-20 victory at home to the Welsh side last Sunday, Leinster cannot qualify for the semi-finals.

Before their defeat to Newport, Colin McEntee’s men had begun the British & Irish Cup with three victories: 16-13 over Plymouth, 12-10 over the Pirates and 22-10 over Exeter Chiefs.

The two teams have never met before in league or cup action. Gael Force is a team put together this season, made up of players from Scotland’s National Academy and their two professional sides, Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors.

Ireland-capped second row Trevor Hogan will captain an experimental Leinster side which includes a number of club players from around the province for their final game in this season’s British & Irish Cup.

With a number of players unavailable due to the Ireland Under-20 game against Wales this Friday, Wednesday’s game presents an opportunity also for a number of Academy players such as Michael Keating, Ciaran Ruddock and Ian Madigan.

Hogan lines up in the second row alongside Ruddock, with Ronan McCormack starting at loosehead prop in a front row which includes hooker Tom Sexton and Academy tighthead prop Jack McGrath.

Dave Moore lines out at half-back alongside Madigan, with Shane Monahan shifting to outside centre from his usual wing position to partner Kyle Tonetti. All four play regularly for Blackrock College in AIB League Division 1A.

Speaking ahead of Leinster’s final Pool A tie, Madigan said that the squad are determined to finish this season’s inaugural competition on a high note.

“From the players’ perspective we see Wednesday night as a chance to pull on the Leinster shirt in a competitive fixture, so we’re definitely looking forward to it even though we can’t qualify out of Pool A now,” he said.

“There was huge disappointment after our defeat to Newport last time out which dented our hopes of qualifying from our pool.

“The British & Irish Cup has been a great competition and it’s just a pity that we let our standards slip last time out at Donnybrook.

“Playing for Leinster is something that we all want and opportunities like facing Gael Force don’t come along every week.

“It has been a good learning curve playing against experienced sides (in the British & Irish Cup) and it has also enabled us to field teams with youth and experience which is invaluable for the developing players in the squad.

“It’s important that we approach this game in a professional and positive manner and look to make a positive impression.”

LEINSTER (v Gael Force): Michael Keating; Darragh Fanning, Shane Monahan, Kyle Tonetti, Matt Healy; Ian Madigan, David Moore; Ronan McCormack, Tom Sexton, Jack McGrath, Trevor Hogan (capt), Ciaran Ruddock, Eoin Sheriff, Jordi Murphy, Leo Auva’a.

Replacements: Jason Harris-Wright, Arthur Lyons, Michael Noone, Jason Risdon, AN Other, Martin Dufficy, Max Rantz-McDonald.

Referee: Michael Tutty (England)

Friday, March 12 –


MUNSTER (2nd) v HERIOT’S (6th), Musgrave Park, 7.30pm

British & Irish Cup Current Form – Munster: WWWW; Heriot’s: LLLL 
British & Irish Cup Top Scorers – Munster: Points: Declan Cusack 32; Tries: Tom Gleeson 2; Heriot’s: Points: Graham Wilson 13; Tries: Chris Fusaro 2

Munster Results – Coventry 13 Munster 20, Butts Stadium; Munster 18 Bristol 6, Nenagh Ormond RFC; Munster 18 Nottingham 3, Waterford RSC; Neath 12 Munster 21, The Gnoll

Preview/Team News: Munster need just one point from Friday’s tie to guarantee progression into the semi-finals of the inaugural British & Irish Cup competition.

Anthony Foley’s charges are the only side with a played four, won four record in the competition having beaten Coventry, Bristol, Nottingham and Neath so far.

Heriot’s are in fifth spot in the SRU Scottish Hydro Premiership One table but have lost all their four encounters in the British & Irish Cup.

Coaches Foley and Ian Costello once again maintain consistency in selection, with just three changes from the side that came from 12-0 down at half-time to beat Neath 21-12 at the Gnoll last time out.

Two of those changes come about as a result of injury. Centre Tom Gleeson, who got injured in the Neath game, is replaced by Richmond clubman Mike Kelliher, while hooker Mick Sherry returns from injury in place of Sean Henry.

Billy Holland came on as a second half replacement at the Gnoll and not surprisingly keeps the number 6 jersey on the strength of a good performance then and an equally impressive showing last weekend in the Magners League game against the Dragons.

Foley and Costello have their young and talented side playing an exciting brand of rugby and the game affords the province’s supporters the opportunity to see first hand the next generation of Munster players in action.

MUNSTER (v Heriot’s): Danny Riordan (UL Bohemians); Danny Barnes (Dolphin), Mike Kelleher (Richmond), Scott Deasy (Cork Constitution), Ciaran O’Boyle (Garryowen); Declan Cusack (Thomond), Duncan Williams (Cork Constitution); Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians), Mike Sherry (Garryowen), Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution), Dave Foley (UL Bohemians), Ian Nagle (Cork Constitution), Billy Holland (Cork Constitution), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution) (capt), Nick Williams (Dolphin).

Replacements: Sean Henry (UL Bohemians), Pa O’Regan (UL Bohemians), Neville Melbourne (Clonmel), Ed Kelly (UL Bohemians), Conor Murray (Garryowen), Jeremy Manning (Cork Constitution), Sean Scanlon (UCC).

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)


ULSTER RAVENS (2nd) v ABERAVON (4th), Ravenhill 7.30pm

British & Irish Cup Current Form – Ulster Ravens: WWDW; Aberavon: WLWL
British & Irish Cup Top Scorers – Ulster Ravens: Points: Niall O’Connor 38; Tries: Tommy Seymour, Paul Marshall 2 each; Aberavon: Points: Matthew Jarvis 16; Tries: Justin Tipuric 2 

Ulster Ravens Results – Ulster Ravens 29 Bedford Blues 3, Ravenhill; Moseley 21 Ulster Ravens 32, Billesley Common; Llanelli 21 Ulster Ravens 21, Parc y Scarlets; Ulster Ravens 21 London Welsh 17, Ravenhill 

Preview/Team News: Ulster Ravens know exactly what they have to do to qualify for the semi-finals, following London Welsh’s 15-10 victory over Llanelli at Old Deer Park last Saturday.

A win by any margin over Abervon on Friday night will be enough to book a semi-final place for the Ravens.

The Ulster side, coached by Neil Doak, are unbeaten so far in the British & Irish Cup, having beaten Bedford, Moseley and London Welsh and drawing 21-21 with Llanelli.

Aberavon cannot progress to the last four as their won two, lost two record in the British & Irish Cup is not quite enough.

The Wizards have beaten Llanelli and Moseley but tripped up to London Welsh and Bedford. Aberavon currently lie in seventh place in the WRU Principality Premiership.

The two teams have never met before in league or cup fare.

Ulster Ravens team manager Gary Longwell understands how important playing at Ravenhill is and the encouragement that the famed Ulster supporters can contribute on match night.

“We all know the Ulster fans are brilliant, and that playing at Ravenhill always gives Ulster sides a great advantage,” he said.

“We need to get the Ulster supporters talking about how good these Ravens games are, how strong the Ulster side is.

“It is not a thrown together team, these are not average players playing, it’s really high quality players playing for Ulster in a very important competition.

“I really hope the supporters come out to back us, and again next week when the senior team plays the Ospreys.”

The Ravens welcome full-back Bryn Cunningham back to full fitness, following his recovery from a long term hamstring injury.

Cunningham is joined in the back-three by Mark McCrea and Tommy Seymour, who have both scored tries in Ulster’s pool campaign.

Michael Allen and Ian Whitten continue their centre partnership, while scrum half Cillian Willis will partner Niall O’Connor at half-back.

Up front, the Ravens pack has a very solid look, with Andi Kyriacou returning as hooker to captain the team, alongside his front row colleagues Bryan Young and Declan Fitzpatrick.

Neil McComb and Ed O’Donoghue link up in the second row, while there is one change in the back row – Dublin University clubman Scott La Valla makes his second Ravens appearance after his impressive debut against Leinster ‘A’ recently.

The replacements bench has an experienced edge, and Queen’s University and Phoenix Ulster Rugby Academy prop Paul Karayiannis and flanker Mark Robinson have also made the matchday 22.

ULSTER RAVENS (v Aberavon): Bryn Cunningham; Mark McCrea, Michael Allen, Ian Whitten, Tommy Seymour; Niall O’Connor, Cillian Willis; Bryan Young, Andi Kyriacou (capt), Declan Fitzpatrick, Neil McComb, Ed O’Donoghue, Thomas Anderson, Scott La Valla, Robbie Diack.

Replacements: Nigel Brady, Paul Karayiannis, Dan Tuohy, Mark Robinson, Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Chris Cochrane.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)