Ulster Rugby vs Munster


Whatever line-ups respective Directors of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus and Kiss, are able to field given injury, form and perhaps Ireland’s preparations for a busy November, they each will bring the traditional Ulster-Munster passions and their redoubtable talents to the stage. Both Erasmus and Kiss will dig deep into their resources this evening and for next week, Irish calls will mean that Ulster, for instance, will be glad that Rob Lyttle, Jacob Stockdale and Brett Herron have been in the white-hot heat of the PRO12 battles already and shown themselves comfortable at that level. Darren Cave is fast approaching a return to full fitness and the indomitable and sometimes undervalued centre is mentally prepared for an important couple of weeks when his side can confirm that elusive ability to win with flair and, if required, dig deep into the soul and physical preparation to eke out victories from unpromising situations. But, preferably, the players would love to get the decisions right, to show their natural instinct for attack, and the promise of Tommy Bowe being ready for a protracted run of games is one which will have supporters hoping to see the ball spread swiftly, deftly into space and with support. There will be key battles to be won on the Kingspan sward this evening, and each group of players is acutely aware of its responsibilities as professionals, to the fans who crave reward in the shape of silverware, and neither will lack for motivation. But though it is – in many ways – back to business as usual, tonight’s visitors come to Kingspan Stadium to be welcomed with sincere and bounteous warmth. The hosts will pay homage to an opponent who never took a backward step in red or green, but who just a few months ago was good-naturedly sharing his optimism for his team after it stemmed a long losing sequence with victory in Belfast. That evening early this year his players played with grit and gave their all, they mirrored the character of their Head Coach. Ulster will want – indeed need - another PRO12 win but the opposition will still be running on the unlikely energy of grief and loss. ‘Axel’ Foley would not have conjured up such sentiment to empower his side, but he’d want an Ulster-Munster game to represent all those things he relished: fervour, contact, total commitment and pride in the jersey. Both teams can pay him the best honour possible by playing with those virtues.



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