The teams were announced earlier today for the Guinness PRO12 match between Ulster and Edinburgh which takes place Friday night at Ravenhill, kick off 7:35pm. Live on BBC NI.
The least shocking news is that Marcell Coetzee starts at 8, Ulster choosing to announce his return rather prematurely to take some of the edge of the home defeat to Bordeaux and to boost the rather disappointing ticket sales. A lot is being pinned on his return but, while there may be a sufficient adrenalin boost for the South African to produce a storming display first time out, I suspect it will be four to six games down the road before we see the best out of the formidable back row player.
Perhaps the more encouraging news, certainly the news that may see Ulster pick up a few extra points over the next couple of game is the return of Stuart Olding and Peter Nelson, with Nelson pitched straight into the pivotal role of outhalf. Two talented youngsters that both try and play. I hope to goodness that they and Coetzee are 100% fit and ready for this, given Ulster’s record on recurring injuries you have to worry, but let’s be positive and assume they are.
If so, it’s a comparitively strong looking side, on paper, and if they get the ball they could do some damage. However if the pack are struggling, well it could be a nightmare; with poor Paul Marshall bearing the brunt of the abuse for a misfiring pack.
Looking at the Edinburgh pack there’s not a lot of names that jump out at me, but such has been my interest in the PRO12 this season that doesn’t say a lot.A quick shifty back through my spreadsheets and I can tell you that fourteen of the starting fifteen started against Ulster in the Scottish sides win at Murrayfield earlier this season.
So what we have is a settled side against one thrown together and, despite the “superstars” on the Ulster side, we all know what way those sort of games generally go. Edinburgh have the added advantage of getting a run out last week, albeit a loss, against Munster.
The FRU Predicts: I’m expecting this to be a pretty poor game with not much between the teams all the way through. You would expect Ulster’s bench to make a difference but don’t be surprised if Rory Scholes or Michael Allen come on to score a late winner for the visitors.
|Louis Ludik||15||Blair Kinghorn|
|Jacob Stockdale||14||Damien Hoyland|
|Darren Cave||13||Chris Dean|
|Stuart Olding||12||Phil Burleigh|
|Charles Piutau||11||Tom Brown|
|Peter Nelson||10||Jason Tovey|
|Paul Marshall||9||Sean Kennedy|
|Andrew Warwick||1||Jack Cosgrove|
|John Andrew||2||Neil Cochrane|
|Ricky Lutton||3||Murray McCallum|
|Kieran Treadwell||4||Fraser McKenzie|
|Alan O’Connor||5||Ben Toolis|
|Robbie Diack||6||Viliame Mata|
|Chris Henry||7||John Hardie|
|Marcell Coetzee||8||Magnus Bradbury|
|Johnny Murphy||16||Stuart McInally|
|Callum Black||17||Derrick Appiah|
|Wiehahn Herbst||18||Nick Beavon|
|Pete Browne||19||Lewis Carmichael|
|Sean Reidy||20||Viliami Fihaki|
|David Shanahan||21||Sam Hidalgo-Clyne|
|Stuart McCloskey||22||Michael Allen|
|Tommy Bowe||23||Rory Scholes|