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Ulster and Munster meet again after paths diverged for Europe

The performance of the scrum-halves will undoubtedly draw the eye during tonight’s inter-pro.

IT’S JUST SHY of two months since Munster and Ulster met in inter-pro action in Limerick.

The compacted rugby season has trundled forward at an almighty pace since, but provinces north and south have enjoyed quite different trajectories since the 22-16 home win at Thomond Park.

andrew-conway-gets-past-matt-faddes-on-his-way-to-scoring-a-try Andrew Conway's try made all the difference when the sides last met. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Munster have won three of their seven matches since and must go to Paris next week in search of a win. Ulster have swept through their Champions Cup pool fixtures and have only lost to Leinster in the last seven outings – and even then, their makeshift side managed to emerge with credit for claiming a bonus point in a messy 54-42 shoot-out at the RDS.

Next week Ulster will go to Clermont, but they have not spared the horses for tonight’s clash in Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 19.35, eir Sport) with Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale welcomed back in the side.

The imperious John Cooney will once again set the tone between pack and back-line for Dan McFarland’s men and the camera focus ought to linger long on his performance directly opposite Conor Murray.

john-cooney-and-conor-murray Murray and Cooney embrace in Thomond Park in November. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The incumbent Ireland and Lions 9 played a post-World Cup replacement role for during the reverse fixture in November while Alby Mathewson enjoyed his last days in Munster.

This evening, Murray heads up an exciting Munster back-line. Johann van Graan had a right to feel aggrieved at losing Joey Carbery to injury before and during the World Cup, but at the turning point in the season he can now run his first-choice players in the pivotal positions.

Peter O’Mahony returns to captain what is otherwise a fresh-faced pack, propped up by the powerful Keynan Knox and Jeremy Loughman. With John Ryan and Dave Kilcoyne in reserve, Munster surely have an eye on what comes next against Racing 92. Perhaps they can use this fixture as Ulster did two months ago, a springboard into bigger games ahead.

Ulster

15.Will Addison
14. Robert Baloucoune
13. Luke Marshall
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Billy Burns
9. John Cooney

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1. Jack McGrath
2. Rob Herring
3. Marty Moore
4. Alan O’Connor
5. Iain Henderson (captain)
6. Matthew Rea
7. Sean Reidy
8. Nick Timoney

Replacements

16. John Andrew
17. Kyle McCall
18. Tom O’Toole
19. David O’Connor
20. Greg Jones
21. David Shanahan
22. Bill Johnston
23. Craig Gilroy

Munster:

15. Shane Daly
14. Andrew Conway
13. Sammy Arnold
12. Rory Scannell
11. Keith Earls
10. Joey Carbery
9. Conor Murray

1. Jeremy Loughman
2. Niall Scannell
3. Keynan Knox
4. Fineen Wycherley
5. Darren O’Shea
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Jack O’Donoghue
8. Arno Botha

Replacements:

16. Diarmuid Barron
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. John Ryan
19. Gavin Coombes
20. Jack O’Sullivan
21. Neil Cronin
22. Dan Goggin
23. Chris Cloete

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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