Ulster Rugby v Leinster Rugby

Both coaches will use this contest to prepare in real match conditions for what lies ahead, and for Ulster that is plainly next Saturday’s PRO14 quarter-final with Connacht, and another inter- pro rivalry renewed and with much on the line. A wonderful win in Edinburgh, combined with Benetton’s sudden decline after its impressive year, meant the runner-up spot in Conference B of a still clumsy league format was secured a fortnight ago. The reward a home play-off tie, the first for a while! After Leinster’s classy dismissal of Toulouse last weekend in the Champions Cup ‘semi’, Cullen will undoubtedly dig deep into his squad tonight, but the standards he sets won’t be lower for a team which will still be sprinkled with familiar international names. McFarland too has intimated that he’ll have the opportunity to offer game time to some of the promising and ambitious products in the Academy and beyond. Some know what it’s like to play at the very top club level, and this will be a chance to lay down a ‘marker’ for what can confidently be predicted to be a trophy-hunting future for Ulster. By the final whistle it may well be that 50 and more players have pulled on the white jersey since last August. McFarland has also recruited well for next terms as well, so fans will want to see locally-produced talent put up their hands up against what will be a ferociously committed Leinster. Next Saturday evening at Kingspan Stadium clearly is the ‘biggie’, and hopefully the indomitable Rory Best and the force of nature that is Darren Cave will take leave of this arena with a victory in front of another raucous but always passionate home support. But, hey, tonight we must show Leinster – again! – what Ulster is truly about. Enjoy the game.



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