Leinster v Ulster: Team News and Betting

Leinster v Ulster kicks off the Christmas Pro 14 derbies on Friday evening. We have team news, betting and statistics below. The game itself takes place at the RDS in Dublin and will be live on TG4.

Preview

This is a massive game in the Pro 14 as 1st comes up against 2nd in Conference A. Leo Cullen’s Leinster remain unbeaten in the competition with 7 wins from 7 games. I personally think though this will be their biggest challenge of the season so far. Dan McFarland’s side have 5 wins from 7 games in the Pro 14 so far this season. They have been excellent in the Champions winning all four games so far. They look to be progressing very nicely.

Player/Manager Thoughts

Speaking to Leinster Rugby TV, Jamison Gibson Park said that the side were pretty happy to get the 10 points from the Northampton Saints fixtures. Leinster recorded big wins over the English Premiership side. However, he stated that “the next block of games are really important and will go a long way to defining the season”.

Ulster’s Tom O’Toole who was called into Andy Farrell’s 45 man squad this week is also looking forward to the game he said to Ulsterrugby.com ,“It will be an exciting one to go to the RDS, last year we didn’t do as well as we wanted but the group has come a long way since then and we’ve a good depth in the squad. A lot of the players are excited to be getting the opportunity to play Leinster.”

Also speaking to Leinster Rugby TV, Stuart Lancaster said the review of the Saints game was done and he said “There are plenty of things we can get better at”. The former England coach was asked about Ulster and he said “I thought they have been excellent, Dan McFarland has done a brilliant job up there”. He continued, they are a very well coached team, it sets everything up for a brilliant game.

Statistics

  • Leinster have not lost to Ulster since 2013
  • Leo Cullen’s charges have scored the most tries this season in the Pro 14
  • Leinster have conceded the least tries in the Pro 14 this season
  • John Cooney has an 85% goalkicking success so far in the competition

Team News

Ulster could be without Billy Burns who will have to follow return to play protocols having picked up a concussion in the win over Harlequins last weekend. Leinster could be without Ross Byrne for this game having picked up a dead leg in the win over Northampton last weekend.  Ronan Kelleher is out for 4 to 6 weeks with a hand injury. Ross Molony is also unavailable having picked up a foot injury against Glasgow in the Pro 14.

Betting

Leinster are unbackable here at odds of 1/20. Ulster are 17/2. I think with the form Leinster are in they will win but may be Ulster to stick to the handicap might be worth a shout. Ulster +21 at 10/11 would be my selection.