Magners League Rugby: Ulster Rugby XV to face Connacht Rugby

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Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has named Jerry Cronin in a much changed team to face Connacht in the Magners League on Friday night at Ravenhill (KO 7.05pm).

Cronin will make his full debut when he comes in at tight-head prop in place of BJ Botha who is ruled out with a medial ligament injury.

Ireland backs Paddy Wallace and Andrew Trimble are not available for the match after they each fractured a thumb against Leinster on Saturday. This opens the way for Darren Cave to return to the starting XV after an impressive substitute appearance at the weekend. He will wear the No 13 jersey with Nevin Spence switching to inside centre to accommodate him.

Johann Muller returns to the second row after missing the trip to Dublin with a dead leg, meaning Tim Barker has to settle for a place among the replacements. Simon Danielli also comes back from injury to occupy the left wing spot so Craig Gilroy moves to the right wing position vacated by Trimble.

Willie Faloon will start at openside flanker, with Chris Henry moving to blindside and Robbie Diack dropping to the bench. Adam Macklin is named on the bench too, and may taste his first action since breaking an ankle playing for the Ravens last September.

The defeat against Leinster means Ulster must now win their two remaining games to guarantee a semi-final spot. Ulster and Connacht played out a 15-15 draw at the Sportsground in September but Mclaughlin will be hoping the Ravenhill factor will prove decisive as they have won their previous 6 home games in all competitions.

The Ulster coach is in a determined mood ahead of the game:
‘We have to win the last two games, there’s no doubt about that. At the minute we are not even thinking about the second one. The most important thing for us is to make sure that on Friday night at Ravenhill we get the result we need.’

Ulster Team v Connacht (Magners League, Ravenhill, Friday 22nd April, kick-off 7.05pm)
(15-9): A D’Arcy; C Gilroy, D Cave, N Spence, S Danielli; I Humphreys, R Pienaar;
(1-8): P McAllister, R Best (capt), J Cronin, J Muller, D Tuohy, C Henry, W Faloon, P Wannenburg;
Replacements (16-23): A Kyriacou, B Young, A Macklin, T Barker, R Diack, P Marshall, I Whitten, C Gaston.

Ulster Rugby would advise supporters coming to the game (gates open 5.30pm) to avoid parking in the immediate vicinity of the Ravenhill Grounds and that the following roads are only accessible for residents and closed to everyone else:

1. Onslow Parade
2. Ravenhill Park
3. Ravenhill Park Gardens

There will also be parking restrictions in place in the Castlereagh area (Mount Merrion Avenue). Supporters are encouraged to make use of the Park ‘n’ Ride facilities at Pirrie Park and along Montgomery Road.

Your co-operation is gratefully appreciated.

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