Irish rugby blog


October 3, 2014

Robbie O'Donaghue

Ulster paid the price last week-end for travelling to Italy with an understrength team with a shock defeat to Zebre. Although they secured a losing bonus point they will be hurting from that defeat and will look to vastly improve in their game against Edinburgh this evening.

Les Kiss has named a strong side for this evenings match with the return of Jared Payne from injury slotting in at the outside centre position and bolstered by captain Rory Best and Chris Henry among 10 changes in the starting line-up. Ulster have a very impressive back line with Trimble, Bowe, Ludik, Payne and the ever improving Stuart McCloskey joined by Jackson and Marshall at half backs. Up front Rory Best is joined in the front row by Wiehahn Herbst and Ruaidhri Murphy who gets the nod for his first start in a competitive game. In the second row Van der Merwe is linked up with Alan O’Connor in for the unfortunate Dan Tuohy (who is surely a big loss to Ireland as well as Ulster). With Chris Henry back at openside along with Wilson and Diack the Ulster pack look formidable.

But it will not all be Ulster’s way as Edinburgh will be at Kingspan Stadium to play rugby. Their captain Mike Coman returns from injury alongside Cornell du Preez in the backrow and with Tim Visser, Jack Cuthbert and Greg Tonks the back 3 Ulster will need to be on their guard.

The key to an Ulster win tonight will be their ability to hit the rucks hard and fast to be able to release their free running backs. This area proved to be their downfall last week so I expect Les Kiss to have spent a considerable amount of time in training this week on the breakdown so expect a vast improvement in that area.

Chris Henry speaking this week said that October is a crucial month in the season, "Every player in the squad now knows how massive the next four weeks are, home games are crucial if you want to compete at anything."

Interesting head to heads to watch for: Trimble/Visser, Bowe/Cuthbert, Ludik/Tonks, Best/Ford, Diack, Henry and Wilson/Coman, Grant and du Preez.

With European places up for grabs let’s hope we can finish the game with 15 men on the pitch. I expect Ulster to be too strong for Edinburgh tonight and to win by 9. History favours them, Edinburgh have won just once in their last seven meetings and have to go as far back as 2009 for their last victory on Belfast soil.


At Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm Live on BBC NI/BBC ALBA

Referee: Claudio Blessano (FIR, 7th competition game)

Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Brian MacNeice (both IRFU)

Citing Commissioner: Eddie Walsh (IRFU)

TMO: Marshall Kilgore (IRFU)



15. Louis Ludik

14. Andrew Trimble

13. Jared Payne

12. Stuart McCIoskey

11. Tommy Bowe

10. Paddy Jackson

9. Paul Marshall

1. Ruaidhri Murphy

2. Rory Best

3. Wiehahn Herbst

4. Alan O’Connor

5. Franco van der Merwe

6. Robbie Diack

7. Chris Henry

8. Roger Wilson



16. Rob Herring

17. Andrew Warwick

18. Bronson Ross

19. Lewis Stevenson

20. Nick Williams

21. Michael Heaney

22. Stuart Olding

23. Darren Cave



15. Greig Tonks

14. Jack Cuthbert

13. Sam Beard

12. Andries Strauss

11. Tim Visser

10. Phil Burleigh

9. Sean Kennedy


1. Rory Sutherland

2. Ross Ford

3. John Andress

4. Anton Bresler

5. Grant Gilchrist

6. Mike Coman

7. Roddy Grant

8. Cornell du Preez



16. James Hilterbrand

17. Allan Dell

18. WP Nel

19. Ollie Atkins

20. Tomas Leonardi

21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne

22. Tom Heathcote

23. Nick McLennan

October 3, 2014

Robbie O'Donaghue

Interested in Blogging?
We'd love to hear from you.
Contact Us