Key Clash Preview: Connacht v Ulster

SportsgroundDate: Saturday 25th September
Kick off: 19:30
Venue: Sportsground

Connacht: Connacht’s record at home has been impressive of late, and they will be hoping to continue their run at the Sportsground with a win over Ulster. Their record against fellow Irish provinces is relatively poor, but their confidence is high at the moment after a promising start to the season. Despite being without key players due to long term injuries, they’ve improved their scrum and are playing their best rugby for a long time.

Ulster: The Ulstermen have been performing above expectations so far this season, and currently sit in second place behind Munster. Pre-season additions have given Head Coach Brian McLaughlin a strong selection of players to choose from, including Niall O’Connor and BJ Botha, among others. The quality of their rugby has been excellent so far against some good sides, and if they continue in this vein they will almost certainly be challenging the top teams at the end of the season.

What to expect: A close encounter between two sides who have started the season well. Ulster have a strong squad who are dangerous in attack while Connacht have Ian Keatley whose penalty kicking is a great asset. Ulster will be desperate to minimise the penalty count, whilst Connacht will defend patiently and capitalise on any mistakes

All eyes on: Currently the leading points scorer in the Magners League, young Ian Keatley has been on fire this season and his goalkicking has made all the difference so far. Connacht’s improved scrum has provided him with a more comfortable platform and he’s looked a better player for it.

Last year’s result: 25th September 2009 – Connacht 6 Ulster 30

Weather forecast: Cloudy with sunny intervals; so no rain and the possibility of a high-scoring game, which should suit Ulster.

Prediction: Ulster’s strong squad should beat Connacht, if they can keep tight and not give away silly penalties. Ulster by 10

By Matt Kellett