Ulster:Stefan Terblanche; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Tom Court, Rory Best, Declan Fitzpatrick; Johann Muller (capt), Dan Tuohy; Stephen Ferris, Willie Faloon, Pedrie Wannenburg.
Replacements:Nigel Brady, Paddy McAllister, Adam Macklin, Lewis Stevenson, Robbie Diack, Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Adam D'Arcy
Edinburgh:Tom Brown; Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Greig Laidlaw (captain), Mike Blair; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Grant Gilchrist, Sean Cox, David Denton, Ross Rennie, Netani Talei.
Replacements:Andrew Kelly, Kyle Traynor, Jack Gilding, Steven Turnbull, Roddy Grant, Chris Leck, Phil Godman, Jim Thompson.
Its a rare occasion for both clubs but one which has been built towards for some time. Ulster play their biggest game since 1999 at the scene of their biggest triumph. Much has changed for both Ulster and the stadium in that time but a quick look at the ticketmaster website suggests the sign "will the last person out please turn off the lights and shut the gates" could well be up again, as well as the massive numbers advantage in the crowd like against Colomiers. Some say the match was won before kick off that day because of it and Ulster fans are still known for their intensity in support. Edinburgh on the other hand will be enjoying the biggest match in their history. Few would have expected them to beat Toulouse but infront of almost 38,000 the second last team in the pro 12 took down the most succesful team in European Rugby showing their league position means nothing on the big stage. Edinburgh will e hoping a sizable portion of that new support makes the treck to Dublin.
Neither team is familiar with this position, and the odds on this semi final paring would have been slim but neither team could be begrudged their place. Ulster have beaten Clermont at home and came so close away, a record defeat for Leicster Tigers and joined the elite list of those who have breached fort thomond. Edinburgh won 5 out of 6 in the groups including the 48-47 win over Racing Metro where they also won away, victory home and away against London Irish with Cardiff Blues home victory the only blot on the paper. The victory over Toulouse the biggest suprise of them all.
Ulster may have had bonus point wins home and away in the league against Edinburgh but league the Scots has shown up on the biggest stage this year and previous results are be no indication. Ulster also find themselves in a new position of clear favourites in the Heineken Cup rather than dark horses. On the European stage they have met four times in the Heineken Cup, the score there 2-1 to Ulster with one draw.
The Interesting Ones
- Tom Court/Rory Best/Declan Fitzpatrick
- Allan Jacobsen/Ross Ford/Geoff Cross
Alfoa is a massive loss to Ulster. The New Zealander's impact has been nothing short of massive. Fitzpatrick's start against Leinster sees him as the most likly replacement but Macklin could yet get the nod. Edinburgh with their all international front row may have the edge here. A rusty Fitzpatrick could struggle against Jacobsen but Tom Court is not to be discounted at the scrum. Often criticised for his tight head abilities, Court is in reality a loose head and a good one at that. Rory Best has been in the form of his life since the world cup and you can expect him to be at the heart of Ulster play and causing havoc in the rucks.
- Stephen Ferris/Chris Henry/Pedrie Wannenburg
- David Denton/Ross Rennie/Netani Talei
it just gets better from here, Chris Henry is often touted as Irish international and has things his own way against O'Donnell in thomond, but Rennie is an outstanding 7, another class and far more experienced than the Munster man. If Henry can win this battle, there can be no denying his ability it will be hard to ignore him in New Zealand.
then Denton vs Ferris
“I’ve always been confident in my own ability and this weekend’s a great test for me,” said Denton.
“Ferris is one of the best, if not the best, blindsides in the world at the moment. He’s a great player. When he gets on the front foot you can see the team rally behind him. I think if I can get on top of him there we’ll stand a good chance.
“I’ve played against Ferris before and a very strong Irish backrow and I didn’t feel out of my depth.
- Ruan Pienaar/ Iain Humphreys/Paddy Jackson
- Mike Blair/Greig Laidlaw
Humphreys from of late has been terrible, his tackling has always been terrible and may not be a guaranteed started. Edinburgh's style of play generally suits him but his anonymous nature of late could see Paddy Jackson make an appearance. It would be a bold move to put someone so relatively inexperienced in but as the saying goes if your old enough your good enough and Jackson has been a standout performer for Ulster in the last few games while playing 10 and 12. With Paul Marshall doubtful is is likely Jackson will at least be on the bench, but Marshall's ability as an impact sub could see him out of the matchday squad if he makes it. Ruan Pienaar is well..... Pienaar and Bradley is under no illusions
Pienaar is a quality kicker, as in world-class. “Munster made three mistakes which were 51 to 53 metres from their line, and that was nine points, so we’ve got to be very careful about that.
“We are going to have to get things so right against Ulster.
mike Blair was one of the best scrum halves in the world in 2008 and was nominated for international player of the year... but his form has been woefully inconsistant since and which ever one turns up could have a big effect.
- Andrew Trimble/Craig Gilroy
- Lee Jones/Tim Visser
Craig Gilroy was 8 when Ulster last won the Heineken Cup. the 21 year old has been sublime for Ulster with the magnicifant try against Munster but he will have it all to do against the Flying Dutchman (soon to be Scotsman) who has scored 36 tries in 56 Rabo Games. The last time Trimble and Jones met the Scot was strechered of. Thankfully he has recoved and another meeting on the same pitch is in order.
Its a massive game for either club and unfamiliar surroundings. Both will want repeat days in the future. Ulster have been steadily building the last few years and get my vote by 10
though someone had to do it... dont comment that much here but always good to avoid college work! cant wait for saturday, stand up for the ulstermen!
can credit pictures if needed