Emirates Lions Can Expect A Major Battle Up Front Against Ulster


Finishing their inaugural Vodacom United Rugby Championship tour on a winning note will be the sole aim of the Emirates Lions this weekend.

It’s been a steep learning curve for the Emirates Lions but after last weekend’s marked improvements, they will be keen to return to South Africa with their tails up.

The Emirates Lions have arguably the toughest assignment of the weekend when they face second-placed Ulster in Belfast tonight (kick-off 20h35).

Ulster, who recently announced the signing of Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen, has so far accumulated a full-house of 15 points from their three games and have scored 15 tries, second only to Leinster’s 17.

The scrums and mauls will be what Ivan van Rooyen’s charges rely on after their dominance in these departments. They’ll be met by a stone wall, though, as they run into a team who is as potent on the attack as they are organised on defence.

Ulster also prides themselves on their set-piece play, and have a 93% success rate at scrums, something they will test the Joburgers’ impressive scrum with this weekend.

After being robbed of a deserved victory in Glasgow, the Lions will have ample aggression and motivation.
That the self-same Warriors who profited from a contentious call to edge the Lions last weekend gave Ulster their biggest challenge of the season losing 35-29 in the opening round, will give the pride of Johannesburg hope.

The Ulster coaching team has named an unchanged starting XV that defeated Benetton last Friday evening.
Will Addison is selected at full-back alongside Ethan McIlroy and Craig Gilroy on the wings. Stewart Moore and James Hume form the centre partnership. Nathan Doak and Billy Burns are named as the starting half-backs.

Andrew Warwick is named in the front row at loosehead with Ulster’s latest double-centurion, Rob Herring at hooker and Tom O’Toole at tighthead prop. Sam Carter will again lead the side and is paired with Alan O’Connor in the engine room.

Matty Rea is retained at blindside, with Nick Timoney at openside and David McCann is named at Number Eight.

Kieran Treadwell makes his return from injury to the forward replacements alongside Brad Roberts, Eric O’Sullivan, Ross Kane and Sean Reidy. Mike Lowry could make his 50th appearance for the province if called upon from the bench. The other back line replacements are David Shanahan and Ben Moxham.

The Emirates Lions made a few minor adjustments to their starting line-up.

Carlu Sadie makes a return to the starting line-up, with Reinhard Nothnagel and Sibusiso Sangweni collecting their first starting berths in the VURC.

Nothnagel comes in for the injured Pieter Jansen van Vuren, while Sangweni features in what reflects a few selection rotations in the match 23.

Wilhelm van der Sluys, Emmanuel Tshituka and flyhalf Fred Zeilinga will all have an opportunity to make their tournament debuts off the substitutes bench on Friday.

Commenting on last week's performance against Glasgow Warriors, Emirates Lions head coach, Ivan van Rooyen, was upbeat ahead of his team's fourth-round encounter.

"We felt our performance against Glasgow Warriors last week was a much better one. There were quite a few aspects we felt were very good and that's the kind of momentum we want to take into the Ulster game."

"This is the final game of our 4-week tour so naturally we want to end on a high,"

Ulster: 15. Will Addison, 14. Craig Gilroy, 13. James Hume, 12. Stewart Moore, 11. Ethan McIlroy, 10. Billy Burns, 9. Nathan Doak, 8. David McCann, 7. Nick Timoney, 6. Matty Rea, 5. Sam Carter (c), 4. Alan O’Connor, 3. Tom O’Toole, 2. Rob Herring, 1. Andrew Warwick. Replacements: 16. Brad Roberts, 17. Eric O’Sullivan, 18. Ross Kane, 19. Kieran Treadwell, 20. Sean Reidy, 21. David Shanahan, 22. Mike Lowry, 23. Ben Moxham.

Emirates Lions: 15. Divan Rossouw, 14. Stean Pienaar, 13. Manuel Rass, 12. Burger Odendaal (c), 11. Rabz Maxwane, 10. EW Viljoen, 9. Andre Warner, 8. Ruhan Straeuli, 7. Vincent Tshituka, 6. Sibusiso Sangweni, 5. Reinhard Nothnagel, 4. Ruben Schoeman, 3. Carlu Sadie, 2. Jaco Visagie, 1. Sti Sithole. Replacements: 16. PJ Botha, 17. Ruan Dreyer, 18. Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20. Emmanuel Tshituka, 21. Morne van den Berg, 22. Fred Zeilinga, 23. Wandisile Simelane.