Ulster Rugby vs Munster


while Luke Marshall is back in top form. The news from the treatment room is that Jared, Darren, Dan, and the irrepressible Stuart Olding are intent on demanding inclusion within weeks. Doak calmly steered Ulster in the right direction while Kiss was delayed by his Ireland duties until the autumn, but with Allen Clarke and Niall Malone sure that they have created a style of rugby that ‘is the Ulster way, and it’s forward’, the next few months will provide more twists, a few turns, but a team worth watching! Munster, once indisputably Europe’s best, will have targets of its own today, and in a period of some transition there is confidence that a return to the peaks is at hand. His employer certainly thinks Anthony Foley is the Head Coach to guide the club there, a new deal put on the table only a week or so ago. Matches between these two famous clubs have always been contests ‘too close to call’, but the spectacular rugby played in Limerick earlier this season demonstrated a willingness to use big games to allow the players a stage, a place to express themselves. Perhaps we won’t have the try-fest of several weeks ago, but what we can expect is an uncompromising battle up front – so nothing new there then! But look for both backlines to go through the gears and use pace, guile and pure, unadulterated bloody-mindedness to provide excellent entertainment. For the home side, and not least its support, there was a watershed period in late November and in December: against Leinster a display full of gritty and combative play, allied to renewed attacking confidence; at home to Edinburgh in horrific conditions a rare intelligence, particularly in the second half, a win was the least the team deserved; and then there was Toulouse at home, and a complete demonstration of what the rejuvenated Trimble described as ‘the ambition we know we have in our play, Toulouse away put the icing on the cake.’ Kiss, Doak, Clarke, Barakat and Malone make a formidable management unit, all of them proven talents as players ‘who’ve been there, done that’, and as coaches of invention, discipline and conviction. They’ve each made promises to themselves for 2016, all of them for Ulster and its family of players, management and supporters. Share their resolution, share their ambition. Then share in the success they will inevitably shape and demand of their playing charges. It’s a Happy New Year. Yes?


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