The teams are up for the Irish Rugby Women’s Interprovincial match between Leinster and Ulster which takes palace at Donnybrook Stadium on Saturday evening. Kick off 6:30 pm. 

Ulster welcome back Irish internationals, Nikki Caughey at full back, and Ashleigh Baxter at openside and, though I’m surprised that both have come straight into the starting line up, I am happy to see thier names on the team sheet. 

Caughey replaces Maeve Liston, who drops to the bench, with Pieta McAllister moving to the centre for the injured Eliza Downey. Emma Jordan takes McAllister’s spot on the wing after an impressive showing as a replacement last week. 

Kathryn Dane and Jemma Jackson remain as halfbacks with internationals Amy Davis and Claire McLaughlin turning out on the wing and the centre respectively for the second successive game. 

Up front, the front row of Ilse Van Staden, Lesley Megarity and Sorcha Mac Laimhim remain in place after good work against their Munster counterparts. Naomi McCullagh also returns, after her best performance in an Ulster shirt, and she is joined in second row by youngster Storm Cobain who started last week in the back row, Hanna Beattie drops to the bench. Captain Gemma McCutcheon swaps to blindside to accommodate Baxter’s return and Lauren Maginnes remains at No. 8. 

It’s the traditional 5-3 split on the bench this week with Brigid Collins, Shauna Martin, Beth Cregan and Asling O’Connell joining Beattie as forwards cover. Brittany Hogan will be looking for her first senior start after some impressive performances alongside fellow replacement Leah Mcgoldrick for the Ulster U18’s, Liston takes the final spot on the bench as back three cover. 

Leinster will be smarting after their surprise defeat by Connacht and with nine (I think)  internationals in their squad they will present a formidable challenge  for the developing Ulster side. It’s certainly a match I’m looking forward to with some of my favourite players on both sides.

There are mouth watering clashes all over the park and I think it’s the back row that are going to decide this one. McCutcheon and Baxter could be a phenomenal pairing in the back row and, if they click, it should be enough to give Ulster the edge. 

The FRU Predicts: I’m going for an energetic Ulster to nick this one on the fast pitch at Donnybrook. 

Leinster Women   Ulster Women
Hannah Tyrrell 15 Nikki Caughey
Eimear Corri 14 Emma Jordan
Jenny Murphy 13 Peita McAlister
Michelle Claffey 12 Claire McLaughlin
Katie Fitzhenry 11 Amy Davis
Nora Stapleton 10 Jemma Jackson
Ailsa Hughes 9 Kathryn Dane
Lindsay Peat 1 Ilse Van Staden
Jennie Finlay 2 Lesley Megarity
Joanna McMahon 3 Sorcha Mac Laimhim
Marie Louise O’Reilly 4 Naomi McCullagh
Susan Fogarty 5 Storm Cobain
Ciara Cooney 6 Gemma McCutcheon
Carmela Morey 7 Ashleigh Baxter
Paula Fitzpatrick 8 Lauren Maginnes
     
Caoimhe Molloy 16 Brigid Collins
Cliodhna Maloney 17 Shauna Martin
Fiona O’Brien 18 Beth Cregan
Katie Norris 19 Aisling O’Connell
Juliet Short 20 Hannah Beattie
Niamh Griffin 21 Brittany Hogan
Niamh Byrne 22 Leah McGoldrick
Kim Flood 23 Maeve Liston

#SUFTUM