Sean Cronin back in blue for clash with shuffled Ulster side 5 months ago

Sean Cronin back in blue for clash with shuffled Ulster side

It's the first of the festive inter-pros, and it's a top of the table clash in Conference A.

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Leinster have been peerless this season, 11 wins from 11 games played in all competitions, top of Conference A in the Pro 14 and the first team ever to qualify for the Champions Cup Quarter Finals after just four pool games played. That being said, there's something brewing up in Ulster at the moment as well. Second to Leinster in the table, they're also top of Pool 3 in the Champions Cup with 4 wins from 4 games played.

As is so often the case in the inter-pros, and perhaps more notably so this year after the World Cup, the away side have massively shuffled the pack. It's a tale of two brothers in the second row, as Skerries natives Alan and David O'Connor start together, with Alan making his 100th appearance for his adopted province while David makes his first start for Ulster. Craig Gilroy starts on the wing, while Matt Faddes at centre is the only survivor from the starting 15 that saw off Harlequins at The Stoop last weekend.

On the other hand, Leinster have named a strong side after back to back maulings of Northampton in Europe the last two weekends. Scott Fardy captains the side from second row, while there's a welcome return for hooker Sean Cronin after a neck injury curtailed his World Cup campaign in Japan. Rob Kearney, not named in Andy Farrell's mid-season "stocktake" earlier in the week, returns to fullback, while there's a debut for Tommy O'Brien at centre. Another Skerries native, Ciarán Frawley, will provide cover for 10 on the bench after his first ever Champions Cup appearance last weekend.

With both sides in flying form, this has the potential to be a good contest, although such a weakened Ulster side will likely struggle at the RDS. There is a huge opportunity for the young blood to make an impact, but it's likely to be a harsh lesson for the fledgling side. The game is live on eir Sport 1 from 7pm tomorrow (Friday).