Beaten-Down Ulster Face Tough Leinster Test

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Ulster play Leinster on Friday and Edinburgh face Glasgow on Saturday.

Leinster's James Lowe breaks a tackle in last year's Champions Cup clash with Northampton.

Ulster’s Pro14 Rainbow Cup campaign has gotten off to the worst possible after losing their first two matches and life isn’t going to get any easier when they travel to Dublin to face Leinster on Friday.

The Ulstermen were demolished by Munster last weekend and head coach Dan McFarland has responded by ringing the changes in the hope of getting a response from his side in one of the feature match-ups of round three.

Eight-time Pro14 champions Leinster bounced back to winning ways in fine style against Connacht last time out, Hugo Keenan helping himself to a hat-trick on the west coast of Ireland. They are a heavy 1/11 favourites to make it back-to-back wins at the expense of Ulster, who are 25/4 to pull off an upset.

Leinster have won nine of the last 10 meetings with Ulster and have named a strong side for this game with 13 Ireland international, including regulars Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong, Garry Ringrose and Jordan Larmour making up the bulk of the starting XV. Their bench features Lions selection Jack Conan, further emphasising their strength in depth.

Ulster have won just one of their last 18 visits to the RDS Arena and don’t look in any great shape to add to that single victory. McFarland has hinted his side are still licking their wounds from their European Challenge Cup semi-final loss to Leicester Tigers a fortnight ago and that showed on the pitch last week as they were crushed 38-10 by Munster.

McFarland has made 12 changes to his side in response to that loss, Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale and Stuart McCloskey being the only survivors, with the likes of Billy Burns and Rob Herring recalled an attempt to boost the visitors. With little to play for in this competition after two losses, Ulster’s mind might not be entirely on the challenge at hand, which is a dangerous prospect when facing Leinster. Leo Cullen’s men are 10/11 to cover the -18.5 handicap, which they have achieved in two of their last three meetings with Ulster.

Warriors Fighting to Keep Cup

Glasgow finally got their hands on the 1872 Cup after a three-year wait last week and now go in search of back-to-back wins over their Scottish rivals Edinburgh. The Warriors got the better of Edinburgh 29-19 last week to break the capital outfit’s hold on Cup and are 13/10 to retain the prize when the two teams clash again this Saturday.

With both sides now having one win and one loss on their respective records, they can’t afford any more slips if they want to stay in the mix for the Rainbow Cup playoffs. This will be the sixth time the two sides have gone head-to-head in the space of 12 months, with Glasgow winning three of their previous five encounters.

With all three of those wins coming at Scotstoun, the challenge for Danny Wilson’s men now is whether they can pick up a first win at Murrayfield since 2016. Edinburgh have lost seven of the last 10 at home so it’s worth taking a chance on Glasgow to edge this one.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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