It’s an Osprey’s double header either side of the Cregagh Road as Ulster A entertain the Ospreys Development side in the Celtic Cup ahead of Ulster’s opening PRO14 match at Ravenhill. The Celtic Cup match kicking off at Gibson Park at 17:00.

Ulster A got back to winning ways last week with a high scoring win away to the Dragons, Ulster enjoying the 6 – 4 split of the tries scored. The results from last weekend were as follows. 

2019 Celtic Cup Round 5
Dragons A 31 (4) 43 (6) Ulster A
Ospreys A 24 (4) 54 (8) Leinster A
Scarlets A 16 (1) 20 (3) Connacht A
Munster A 28 (4) 7 (1) Cardiff Blues A

By our reckoning, the results leave the FRUOFFICIAL Celtic Cup Table as follows. 

Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA TB LB PTS
Leinster A 5 5 0 0 253 109 144 38 17 5 0 25
Ulster A 5 4 0 1 167 136 31 23 19 5 0 21
Connacht A 5 4 0 1 135 114 21 16 15 2 0 18
Scarlets A 5 2 0 3 155 154 1 21 22 3 2 13
Dragons A 5 1 0 4 152 157 -5 23 21 4 2 10
Munster A 5 1 1 3 106 148 -42 14 22 1 0 7
Ospreys A 5 1 1 3 106 174 -68 15 25 1 0 7
Cardiff Blues A 5 1 0 4 85 167 -82 13 22 2 0 6

Ulster A and Leinster A were the hot picks for the final from Round 2 and with two more rounds remaining it looks as though this will be the case. 

However, Ulster still need to bag two wins in case Connacht, somehow, get a win against Leinster in the final round.

With the Osprey’s form in this competition, it should be another five points tonight for Ulster who returned to form, banging in six tries, away to the Dragons with a Ross Adair’s hat trick putting him top of the try scorers to date. 

ULSTER A SCORERS TO DATE
PLAYER T C P DG PTS
Bruce Huston 0 17 6 0 52
Ross Adair 5 0 0 0 25
David McCann 4 0 0 0 20
Peter Cooper 3 0 0 0 15
Azur Allison 2 0 0 0 10
Conor Rankin 2 0 0 0 10
Aaron Hall 1 0 0 0 5
Callum Reid 1 0 0 0 5
Graham Curtis 1 0 0 0 5
Hayden Hyde 1 0 0 0 5
Luke Pollock 1 0 0 0 5
Marcus Rea 1 0 0 0 5
Tommy O’Hagan 1 0 0 0 5
Totals 23 17 6 0 167

There is one word of warning though in that Angus Curtis and Adam McBurney have been parachuted in from the senior team more than likely to get game time. Angus Curtis joining his younger brother Graham in the back line. 

The danger with the “senior” players coming into a settled side is that they can either try and do it all themselves, or, the other players leave it to them to create the chances. Both options disrupt the team dynamic and, as we saw against Leinster, a bit of a hoking is the inevitable result. 

However, this time round the disruptions have been kept to a minimum and I tend to think that Curtis senior and McBurney are more of the hard working team type players which should help to minimise their impact on what is, after all, a good side. 

Also of note is the return of Peter Cooper to the front row to team up with Callum Reid for the fourth time in six games at loose and tight head. The back row of Dunleavy, McCann and Allison are also together for their fourth outing in six and they are easily the best balanced back row that have featured in this competition.

The halfback pairing of Nathan Doak and Bruce Houston are there for their sixth outing and youngster Ethan McIlroy gets his second outing at full back with veteran, at the grand old age of 25, Ross Adair dropping back to the wing to keep a fatherly eye on the youngsters in the back three. 

In Angus Curtis, Adam McBurney, Peter Cooper and Ross Adair, it’s a team featuring four FRU Favourites which I believe is a record. If that doesn’t signal a big win I don’t know what does 🙂 🙂 😐 There’s a fair chance that all four will score, though it might be a bit of a scrap between McBurney and Cooper to see who claims the driving maul! 

Ulster A: Ethan McIlroy, Ross Adair, Hayden Hyde, Angus Curtis, Graham Curtis, Bruce Houston, Nathan Doak, Callum Reid, Adam McBurney, Peter Cooper, David O’Connor, Jack Regan, Joe Dunleavy, David McCann (Capt), Azur Allison. Replacements: Zack McCall, Tommy O’Hagan, Paul Mullen, Matthew Dalton, Marcus Rea, Lewis Finlay, Luke Pollock, Conor Rankin.

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