Sunday 17 December 2017

Rabo PRO12: Ulster want to make a statement at Rodney Park

Ulster's Dan Tuohy
Ulster's Dan Tuohy

The Ulster men are doing what Leinster did at this time last year in making the most of the international window to make a statement at Rodney Parade on Sunday (KO4.0, BBCNI).

They have won their last four in the PRO12 to creep up to third, and have been relatively unharmed by Ireland with just Rory Best, Jared Payne and Tommy Bowe starting on Sunday.

There is also the fact that their demise from The Champions Cup as given them a narrow focus.

The League is all they have left to salvage out of the season and they are intent on winning silverware.

The Dragons 16-14 shock win at Leinster has been the exception to the rule as they have won one form their last five.

The fortress that once was The Parade has been stormed too often and too easily.

The Welsh club has won two of their last seven on home soil, Connacht's win there last month showing up their vulnerability.

Connacht: Lam brings in Muliaina

The men from the West can load the pressure onto Scarlets and Edinburgh by taking the scalp of Cardiff at The Arms Park tonight (KO 7.35, TG4).

The experience of Mils Muliaina will be important at the back as they look to keep Gareth Anscombe and Alex Cuthbert in check.

Connacht have lost nine of their last ten against The Blues where the artificial pitch can be a distinct advantage.

They have been boosted by the announcement yesterday of wing-cum-centre Danie Poolman to extend his contract out by two years to the summer of 2017.

Cardiff: R Patchell; A Cuthbert, C Allen, G Evans, J Tuculet; G Anscombe, L Williams; S Hobbs, K Dacey, T Filise, J Hoeta, L Reed, J Turnbull, E Jenkins, J Navidi.

Connacht: M Muliaina; T O’Halloran, D Poolman, D McSharry, M Healy; C Ronaldson, J Cooney; D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You, M Kearney, A Muldowney, J Muldoon (capt), J Heenan, G Naoupu.

Verdict: Cardiff

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