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Sunday 20 October 2019

McFadden banned as PRO14 quarters loom

Fergus McFadden. Photo: Sportsfile
Fergus McFadden. Photo: Sportsfile

Fergus McFadden will miss out on the rest of the season after receiving a six-week ban, missing out on the Champions Cup final and PRO14 League play-offs.

The Leinster wing was cited for an action in contravention of Law 9.12 which states "a player must not physically abuse anyone."

The Disciplinary Panel convened and concluded McFadden's had committed an act worthy of a red card in what was an apparent head-butt to Ulster's Sean Reidy.

Despite McFadden's fine previous disciplinary record, good conduct, remorse and engagement with the instant disciplinary process, the suspension will take in all Leinster and Ireland matches up to and including Sunday, August 25, 2019.

The Player was reminded of his right to appeal.

In terms of the PRO14 quarter-finals, Munster will have to be on guard against Benetton at Thomond Park for tomorrow afternoon's tie (KO3.0, Eirsport 1).

New Zealander Kieran Crowley has done a stunning job in building the Italian club up into a serious outfit, capable of turning this into a dogfight.

In this way, Munster coach Johann van Graan could do worse than look to unleash the backline lurking in behind his own big men, like Jean Kleyn and CJ Stander.

The return of Joey Carbery and Keith Earls from injury would immediately broaden their attacking horizon.

In fairness, from an Irish perspective, there is a lot more to like about the Inter-provincial tussle between Ulster and Connacht at The Kingspan, later in the evening (KO5.35, Eirsport 1).

Connacht are in bonus territory in what amounts to a bounce-back season in which they have confounded all reasonable pre-season predictions.

The effectiveness of their strategy has a lot to do with how well their Jack Carty drives them around the field on the receiving end of the service from either Kieran Marmion or Caolin Blade.

"I think Connacht, in general, are playing with confidence," said the out-half.

"The players are playing with confidence and there is real clarity in what we're trying to do."

It just could come down to the most impressive aspect of Ulster's play this season.

They have been at their best when properly implementing Jared Payne's strategy.

When it comes down to the play-offs, it is more likely that defence will trump attack, especially with Jacob Stockdale out of the game.

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