RUGBY: Ulster target quarter-final place on travels to Jersey

John Donnan
John Donnan
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Saturday’s Pool One British & Irish Cup game between Jersey and Ulster ‘A’ has plenty at stake with the winners guarnateed a home draw in the quarter-finals.

Ulster lead the group by a point from the Championship side and can make the knockout stages for the first time since the inaugural competition in 2012.

Alan O’Connor will add considerable experience to the Ulster pack as he makes his first appearance since returning from an injury obtained in the Champions Cup win over Exeter in October. O’Connor will captain the side from the second row, where he is partnered by John Donnan.

It will be a new-look front row for Ulster as hooker Jonny Murphy is joined by Eric O’Sullivan and Peter Cooper. The back row of Stephen Mulholland, Conor Joyce and Lorcan Dow, which functioned so effectively in last week’s 38-21 win over London Scottish, is retained.

The half-back pairing of Jonny Stewart and Johnny McPhillips also remain in situ, as coaches Campbell and Anderson opt for youth across the backline for the crucial away trip. Ireland U20 star Jacob Stockdale joins the Hughes Insurance Ulster Academy pairing of David Busby and Jack Owens in the back three, while fellow Academy player Rory Butler comes in to partner Mark Best in midfield.

Zack McCall, Chris Cundell, Matthew Rea and Nick Timoney are named as the forward replacements, while Johnny Creighton, Andrew Magrath and Callum Patterson will provide backline cover from the bench.

Jersey head coach Harvey Biljon makes two changes to his starting XV from the win over Cardiff Blues Premiership Select.

James Freeman returns to the starting line-up at flanker, with Max Argyle reverting to the bench, while there’s a start at fly-half for Callum Sheedy, signed last week from Bristol on a dual registration agreement. This means Sam Katz will take a place on the bench, which also includes the return of Aussie lock Dave McKern, primed for his first action since New Year’s Day.

The game has a 2pm kick-off.

SATURDAY LINE-UPS

Jersey Reds: Jack Cuthbert, George Watkins, Jordan Davies, Kuki Ma’afu, Ross Adair, Callum Sheedy, Kieran Hardy; Sean McCarthy, Jack Macfarlane, Simon Kerrod, Uili Kolo’ofa’i, Pierce Phillips (capt), James Freeman, James Doyle, Nick Haining

Replacements: Joe Buckle, Jake Woolmore, Jake Armstrong, Dave McKern, Max Argyle; Joel Dudley, Sam Katz.

Ulster ‘A’ (sponsored by DC Group): Jack Owens, David Busby, Rory Butler, Mark Best, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny McPhillips, Jonny Stewart; Eric O’Sullivan, Jonny Murphy, Peter Cooper, Alan O’Connor (C), John Donnan, Stephen Mulholland, Conor Joyce, Lorcan Dow.

Replacements (16-22): Zack McCall, Chris Cundell, Matthew Rea, Nick Timoney, Johnny Creighton, Andrew Magrath, Callum Patterson.