Follow all the action on the RugbyPass live blog from the Guinness PRO14 match between Ulster and Connacht at Kingspan Stadium.
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Hooker Rob Herring will lead out Ulster and he is joined in the front row by Marty Moore and the returning Jack McGrath. Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell are paired together in the engine room, with Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy and Marcell Coetzee selected as the loose forward trio.
Will Addison returns from suspension to start at full-back and he is joined in the back three by Robert Baloucoune and Louis Ludik. The familiar pairings of Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall, and John Cooney and Billy Burns are named as the midfield and half-back pairings respectively.
Connacht, meanwhile, will be skippered by scrum-half Caolin Blade, who has taken part in all of his province’s twelve games this season. His half-back partner will be Conor Fitzgerald.
(Continue reading below…)
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Elsewhere in the backline, Peter Robb has returned from injury to partner Tom Daly in midfield while Tiernan O’Halloran starts at full-back in a back three that includes John Porch and Matt Healy on the wings.
Up front, Paddy McAllister is another to return from injury, the loosehead joining a front row consisting of hooker Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham at tighthead.
With Quinn Roux picking up a hand injury against Munster that will likely keep him out of action until the end of January, Ultan Dillane will line up with Joe Maksymiw who came off the bench last weekend. In the back row, Robin Copeland comes in at No8 and will be flanked by Eoin McKeon and Paul Boyle.
This doesn't look good for those who argue that the PRO14 is just as competitive a tournament as the English Premiership and the French Top 14https://t.co/F7yigyrdGa
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 27, 2019
Connacht boss Andy Friend said: “We have had a short turnaround from the Munster game and with Christmas in the middle of that, there isn’t a huge volume of training the squad can get through.
“We are boosted by the return of Paddy McAllister, Matt Healy and Peter Robb, and those fresh legs are important as we head into the tenth weekend in a row of PRO14 and Champions Cup action.
“Ulster have a fantastic record at home and are unbeaten in Kingspan since we defeated them some 14 months ago.”
ULSTER: 15. Will Addison; 14. Robert Baloucoune, 13. Luke Marshall, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. Louis Ludik; 10. Billy Burns, 9. John Cooney; 1. Jack McGrath, 2. Rob Herring (capt), 3. Marty Moore, 4. Alan O’Connor, 5. Kieran Treadwell, 6. Matthew Rea, 7. Sean Reidy, 8. Marcell Coetzee. Reps: 16. Adam McBurney, 17. Kyle McCall, 18. Tom O’Toole, 19. David O’Connor, 20. Nick Timoney, 21. David Shanahan, 22. Bill Johnston, 23. Craig Gilroy.
CONNACHT: 15. Tiernan O’Halloran; 14. John Porch, 13. Tom Daly, 12. Peter Robb, 11. Matt Healy; 10. Conor Fitzgerald, 9. Caolin Blade (capt); 1. Paddy McAllister, 2. Dave Heffernan, 3. Finlay Bealham, 4. Ultan Dillane, 5. Joe Maksymiw, 6. Eoin McKeon, 7. Paul Boyle, 8. Robin Copeland. Reps: 16. Shane Delahunt, 17. Denis Buckley, 18. Dominic Robertson McCoy, 19. Niall Murray, 20. Eoghan Masterson, 21. Stephen Kerins, 22. Kyle Godwin, 23. Stephen Fitzgerald.
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