Craig Gilroy tries to evade Brian O'Driscoll and Fergus McFadden. ©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd
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Pro12: Ulster and Connacht look to overcome home woes

Leinster and Munster have enjoyed a swathe of away day successes in Belfast and Galway respectively.

ULSTER MAY BE riding high in the Pro12 but the arrival of Leinster to Ravenhill on Friday will be greeted with a degree of apprehension.

The two sides have met nine times in Belfast since the Celtic League was revamped to its current, round-robin format in 2003.

The record stands at five Leinster wins, two draws and two home wins.

David Humphreys scored 18 points, including a try, and Tyrone Howe crossed for a double in the 28-6 triumph at Ravenhill in May 2004.

66 months passed before the home fans could again celebrate a victory over Leinster, in October 2009. Ian Humpheys [11 points] and Isaac Boss’ second-half try did the damage in a 16-14 win.

The most recent fixture between the sides was a low-scoring affair played out in pouring April rain.

Leinster led 13-8 at half-time thanks to a Kevin McLaughlin try and eight kicked points from Jonathan Sexton.

A 67th minute drop-goal by the Blues’ out-half sealed the contest but the real disappointment for Ulster fans came a month later as Leinster defeated them 42-14 in the Heineken Cup Final.

Galway galling

Connacht supporters will have similar jitters on Saturday but they do not have the comfort blanket of a 10-game unbeaten streak.

A pessimistic look at the domestic records reveals one victory in the past nine home ties against Munster.

Connacht were victorious, 38-12, in an August 2003 friendly encounter at the Sportsground but An Mhumhain tightened up defensively and won the next two Celtic League matches 3-0.

The biggest away win in the past decade was a 44-19 mauling in October 2005 and two further defeats would follow before a solitary bright spot in December 2008.

Ian Keatley, now back in the Munster ranks, kicked four penalties as Connacht won 12-6.

The Munster website noted that, friendlies aside, it was Connacht’s first win over Munster since 1986 and their first in Galway since 1979.

Ian Keatley and John Muldoon celebrate Connacht’s win over Munster in 2008. (©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)

The most recent meeting was a 20-16 win for Munster as Simon Zebo and Tommy O’Donnell crossed for tries.

Keatley, now playing in red, kicked 10 points.

Connacht’s much-deserved Heineken Cup pool victory over Biarritz is still fresh in the mind and Munster coach Rob Penney is expecting a hostile reception.

He told, “You always know what you’re going to get when you go to the Sportsground. It’s a tough place to go and they’re a stronger outfit now after a couple of years of Heineken Cup.

“We saw what they did to Biarritz there and I don’t imagine they’ve anything less than that planned for us.”

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