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Inter-pro: 3 key battles to decide Munster v Ulster

Ulster’s team selection has left them vulnerable at Thomond Park this evening.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Billy Holland v Neil McComb

ULSTER COACH MARK Anscombe has chosen this game as the one to rest his front-line stars.

As a consequence the 100 percent record looks set to fall, but If Ulster are to chisel out league victory number 12 then they will need a monumental effort from their pack.

Second rows are thin on the ground in Ulster at the minute, so McComb is one of the few players in this squad who would have played if a full-strength team were picked for the clash in Limerick.

Munster will be ready to reap the rewards of having limited options in the pack this season as their front eight now look like a formidable unit. They will look to shut off Ulster’s powerful scrum first and foremost followed quickly by the line-out where Holland will be keen to stake a long-term claim for Paul O’Connell’s shirt.

Conor Murray v Paul Marshall

Ireland’s best two scrum halves will come face to face this evening. One, however, already has a wealth of international experience despite his tender years, whereas the other is a 27-year-old black sheep of the family.

Murray has struggled for consistency this year and Marshall remains stuck in the queue behind Ruan Pienaar, but each will relish the opportunity to show their worth against a talented and uber-competitive opponent.

We expect Murray to have the more comfortable day, working behind a dominant pack, but Marshall’s lightning quick snipe will keep defenders on their toes and buy some much needed time for Niall O’Connor.

James Downey v Luke Marshall

Rarely will the two extremes of the inside centre spectrum be shown in such stark light. These two are fire and ice. Downey, a big-hitting, ball-carrying wrecking ball of a 12 versus the smooth, silky, natural skill-set of the Belfast boy.

The selection of O’Connor at fly-half makes this a game where Marshall will be asked to share in the duty of controlling the game just as Paddy Wallace does for Paddy Jackson.

Munster will look to set Downey rumbling at a very light looking Ulster three-quarter line containing Marshall, O’Connor and Michael Allen. Therein, perhaps, will lie the key for a constant source of go-forward ball and a Munster win.

‘I had to stop the president from pulling a Biarritz t-shirt over my head’ – O’Driscoll

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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