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Ulster v Cardiff Blues | Guinness Pro14 | Friday 24th October 2019

Form

Ulster: WLW

Cardiff Blues: WLL

Ulster have had a good start to the Guinness Pro14 campaign, beating Ospreys and Southern Kings either side of losing to Cheetahs, ticking off the South African tour for the year.

However, the loss to Cheetahs saw them concede 62 points, asking questions of their defence in the process.

Head-to-head

Ulster 16-12 Cardiff Blues – 01/12/2018

Cardiff Blues 35-17 Ulster - 24/03/2018

Ulster 24-24 Cardiff Blues – 07/04/2017

Cardiff Blues 22-35 Ulster – 03/12/2016

Cardiff Blues 23-13 Ulster – 22/02/2016

You have to go back to April 2010 to find the last time a Cardiff Blues team won at the Kingspan Stadium, when tries from Xavier Rush, Casey Laulala and Dafydd Hewitt secured a good victory ahead of winning the European Challenge Cup for the first time.

Team news

Ulster have made five changes to their team that beat Southern Kings, including naming Irish international new signing Jack McGrath at loosehead, while another Irish international in the shape of Will Addison returns to fitness at full-back.

There are four changes for Cardiff Blues with the injured Dmitri Arhip and Wales call-up Owen Lane out, replaced by Scott Andrews and Jason Harries, while Liam Belcher and Nick Williams are tactical additions.

Ulster: Will Addison, Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, James Hume, Louis Ludik, Billy Burns (c), John Cooney; Jack McGrath, John Andrew, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Ross Kane, Sam Carter, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Bill Johnston, Matt Faddes

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan, Jason Harries, Garyn Smith, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill, Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Liam Belcher, Scott Andrews, Josh Turnbull, Rory Thornton, Will Boyde, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams (c)

Replacements: Kris Dacey, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Seb Davies, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Lewis Jones, Jason Tovey, Harri Millard

Player to watch

Ulster lock Alan O’Connor has started the season in fine form for the Irish side, currently topping the Guinness Pro14’s tackles made list after three rounds.

That he retains his place in the starting XV while Australian international Sam Carter drops to the bench to make way for Kieran Treadwell speaks volumes about his early season form.

What the coaches said

“Results-wise, we’ve been disappointed, but there’s aspects of our play in all three games which have been really encouraging, and we can be positive travelling to Belfast. We have identified the areas we needed to work on, and we’ve been pleased with the work on the training ground over the past two weeks.

“We know the challenges that awaits us in Belfast. Ulster are a proud team, especially in front of their own crowd, and they’ll look to put their physical stamp on the match. But it’s important for us to remain focused on our own game plan.

“We’ve picked up six points from two games on the road this season, and that gives us confidence. We’ve spoke a lot about wanting to make a statement when we’re away from home this season, and this is another exciting opportunity to do that.

“It’s also great to see Willis making his 50th appearance in the competition. He’s really grown as a leader within the backs over the last few months, and we all know the quality he’s got.”

John Mulvihill, Cardiff Blues Head Coach

The referee

Former Glasgow scrum-half and Scottish 7s international Mike Adamson takes charge of the fixture on Friday, his second Cardiff Blues game in the middle after refereeing the opening round win over Southern Kings where he showed us three yellow cards.

His last time refereeing an Ulster game was a defeat at the hands of Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.

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