herald

Sunday 31 August 2014

Connacht can stun Ulster

THIS looks like a tasty renewal of a rivalry that has rarely gone Connacht's way. The statisticians have to go all the way back to 2005 to find the western province's last victory over Ulster.

Coach Eric Elwood will not accept anything less than total commitment as Connacht still have Benetton Treviso and the Dragons in their sights.

While David Humphreys contemplates the rights and wrongs of making a pre-emptive strike to remove the remarkably dignified Brian McLaughlin, the coach just gets on with business.

Ulster have won their last five matches between the PRO12 and the Heineken, and scalped Irish provinces in three of their last four encounters against them.

McLaughlin badly wants silverware. He is alive in both competitions, lurking one point behind Munster and Glasgow in fifth position on the PRO12 ladder.

It is likely they can secure an away semi-final even though second-placed Ospreys are only three points above them. The knock-on effect of tumbling Munster last Sunday is they will believe they can go anywhere and get a result.

Connacht v Ulster, The Sportsground, Tomorrow (KO 5.15, Live TG4)

Verdict: Connacht

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