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Can Munster continue Clermont momentum away to McFarland's Ulster?

The northern province have made 11 changes for the meeting at Kingspan Stadium.

Munster are keen to build on their big win in France.
Munster are keen to build on their big win in France.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

IT MUST HAVE been frustrating for Munster to miss out on the chance to immediately follow up on their stirring comeback victory over Clermont with another game last weekend.

Johann van Graan was set to pick a strong team for the St Stephen’s Day clash with Leinster at Thomond Park as he targeted another big win but the fixture was unfortunately postponed. 

Instead, Munster will have been doing their best to keep the sense of momentum from events at Stade Marcel Michelin rolling all the way into today’s Guinness Pro14 visit to Ulster at Kingspan Stadium [KO 5.15pm, eir Sport].

Van Graan’s men are also out to continue their 100% winning record in all competitions so far this season, with seven of those coming in the Pro14 and two in Europe.

For their part, Ulster also have a 100% record in the Pro14 but they suffered the disappointment of European defeats to Toulouse and Gloucester last month before responding with a creditable away win to Connacht last weekend.

It’s nearly all change for Dan McFarland’s side this evening, 11 in total. 

Jacob Stockdale returns to the fullback slot, while Billy Burns and John Cooney are back as the starting halfbacks. Of chief interest elsewhere is a first senior start for the very promising David McCann in the number seven shirt. The 20-year-old is one to watch.

Marcell Coetzee is also back in action, albeit as a replacement for the first time in his Ulster career. With his move to the Blue Bulls at the end of this season officially confirmed, the Springbok back row will be keen to go out on a high with McFarland’s side over the coming months.

There are two more names of particular interest who come onto the Ulster bench, with loosehead prop Callum Reid and scrum-half Nathan Doak joining outside back Ben Moxham – who made his debut against Connacht last time out – as replacements.

nathan-doak Nathan Doak is set for his debut off the Ulster bench. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

21-year-old Reid was recently on loan with Munster but didn’t feature for their senior side, while fellow academy man Doak is a very talented playmaker and the son of former Ulster boss Neil Doak.

There is plenty of youthful quality in the Munster selection too, with 21-year-old out-half Ben Healy back from his shoulder injury to start, while 20-year-old playmaker Jack Crowley is set for his debut off the bench.

Ireland international Niall Scannell makes his first start of the season at hooker after recovering from a long-term neck injury, while Liam Coombes’ sharp form for Munster A is rewarded with his first start of the campaign on the left wing.

22-year-old Jack O’Sullivan gets a big opportunity at number eight, while the likes of Thomas Ahern and Roman Salanoa will be itching to impress off the bench along with Crowley.

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Ulster:

15. Jacob Stockdale
14. Matt Faddes
13. James Hume
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Ethan McIlroy
10. Billy Burns
9. John Cooney

1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rob Herring
3. Marty Moore
4. Kieran Treadwell
5. Sam Carter (captain)
6. Matty Rea
7. David McCann
8. Nick Timoney

Replacements:

16. Adam McBurney
17. Callum Reid
18. Tom O’Toole
19. David O’Connor
20. Marcell Coetzee
21. Nathan Doak
22. Ian Madigan
23. Ben Moxham

Munster:

15. Shane Daly
14. Calvin Nash
13. Dan Goggin
12. Rory Scannell
11. Liam Coombes
10. Ben Healy
9. Craig Casey

1. Liam O’Connor
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Fineen Wycherley
5. Billy Holland (captain)
6. Jack O’Donoghue
7. Chris Cloete
8. Jack O’Sullivan

Replacements:

16. Rhys Marshall
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. Roman Salanoa
19. Thomas Ahern
20. Tommy O’Donnell
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Jack Crowley
23. Darren Sweetnam

Referee: Mike Adamson [SRU].

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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