Graham Rowntree expecting Munster clash with Ulster to have ‘international intensity’

Ulster ‘targeting victory’ at Ravenhill after sending second string to play Connacht

Munster coach Graham Rowntree says that Ulster are clearly targeting victory over his side in Friday’s URC meeting in Belfast on Friday night (7.35pm) having sent a second string to Galway last weekend to play Connacht.

Ulster made 11 changes to the side which notched their second win of the campaign against the Bulls for their derby game in the Sportsground and coach Dan McFarland was forced into a 12th switch when fullback Will Addison was forced to cry off with a hamstring injury.

“I think their selection of the team they sent down to Connacht on Saturday reflected what they are thinking of us on Friday night.

“We are going to Ravenhill on a Friday night and a lot of teams have come unstuck there. I think it is going to be an international intensity game around the breakdown.


“Our discipline has to be very good. We can’t give them access because they have a very good maul. They are actually expanding the game this year, but access we can’t give them, silly penalties, and our breakdown has to be spot on.

“It’s another big test and they just roll on, week to week. They all have different threats but this is another big test for us.”

The URC champions are unbeaten after three games but Rowntree acknowledged they were lucky to get out of Treviso with a draw when a late Tom Ahern try and a conversion from Joey Carbery salvaged a 13-13 share of the spoils, a result sandwiched between victories over the Sharks and the Dragons.

Rowntree said getting points from displays like that are key to doing well in the league.

“We weren’t good first-half, and let’s not forget that was a big performance from them,” said Rowntree. “Second-half we had a lot more possession in the right areas of the field. We didn’t function that brilliantly around lineout and set-piece and our delivery. But we stuck in the game and we have proven to be good in the last 15 minutes, last five minutes, of games.

“We just had to make sure we had enough possession on their try-line and Tom got us a draw. We were probably lucky to get a draw given the way the game had gone. But we got a draw and it’s another one for our belief on the road. We’ve spoken a lot about how hard we have to be on the road and that was another one for us,” added Rowntree.