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Ulster Ravens Gear Up For Crucial Clash

Ulster Ravens Gear Up For Crucial Clash

The Ulster Ravens team and replacements for the winners-take-all British & Irish Cup Pool 1 clash with Bristol at Deramore Park on Friday (kick-off 7.30pm) has been announced.

Allen Clarke’s charges enter the game in second position, one point adrift of the English side who lead the pool with 18 points.

The Ravens have won three from four so far in this season’s campaign, with that defeat coming from a 34-28 reverse away to Bristol.

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With only one team qualifying from each pool, a win is the only option if the Ravens are to progress to the knock-out stages.

Development hooker Niall Annett will captain the home side and is joined in the front row by fellow senior cap winners Richard Lutton and Adam Macklin.

Former Leinster Academy member Alan O’Connor is joined in the second row by James Simpson. Conor Joyce, Ali Birch and Dungannon number 8 James McMahon make up the back row, with the latter making his first appearance in the British & Irish Cup.

Regular full-back Adam D’Arcy has fractured his ankle so Blane McIlroy will line out in the unfamiliar role in the back-three.

He is joined in the outside backs by Rory Scholes and the 27-year-old Neil Walsh, who will also be making his debut.

Niall O’Connor and Stuart McCloskey will pair up in midfield, with Belfast Harlequins duo Michael Heaney and Stuart Olding donning the number 9 and 10 shirts respectively.

The experienced Nigel Brady has been named among the replacements, with Andy Warwick, John Donnan and Neil Faloon providing further cover for the forwards. John Creighton, Stuart Morrow and Chris Colvin are the back-line substitutes.

ULSTER RAVENS (v Bristol): Blane McIlroy; Neil Walsh, Stuart McCloskey, Niall O’Connor, Rory Scholes; Stuart Olding, Michael Heaney; Richard Lutton, Niall Annett (capt), Adam Macklin, Alan O’Connor, James Simpson, Conor Joyce, Ali Birch, James McMahon.

Replacements: Nigel Brady, Andy Warwick, John Donnan, Neil Faloon, John Creighton, Stuart Morrow, Chris Colvin.