Jackson starts for Ulster in semi final

Published Friday, 27 April 2012
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Tommy Bowe has his fingers crossed for Ulster in their Heineken Cup semi-final this weekend, with Paddy Jackson set to start the game at fly-half.

Jackson starts for Ulster in semi final
Brian McLaughlin. (© Pacemaker)

Willie Faloon will replace the injured Chris Henry against Edinburgh at the Aviva on Saturday, while Jackson was preferred to Ian Humphreys in Brian McLaughlin's squad.

John Afoa's suspension means a start for Declan Fitzpatrick and Paul Marshall is on the bench after shaking off an elbow problem.

More than 2% of the population is expected to travel from Northern Ireland to Dublin to see Ulster play their first European semi-final since 1999.

The Ravenhill side have had two big wins over Edinburgh this season in the Pro 12 - but the Scots have been a different team in Europe, powering past Toulouse who they were underdogs against.

They will go with the same lineup they used to beat the French side at Murrayfield.

Ireland winger Bowe said he has his "fingers crossed" for Ulster, hoping they can set up an all-Ireland final - but he admits they face a big challenge.

"It's a difficult match," he told UTV. "Edinburgh have a lot of dangerous players on their team, and as long as Ulster go out there and display the game that they want to I think that they will win."

McLaughlin named his side for the game on Friday, with Paddy Wallace and Pedrie Wannenburg, who had to be withdrawn in the Leinster game, both passed fit to start.

Forward trio Stephen Ferris, Dan Tuohy and Rory Best have all returned to the starting XV after being rested last weekend - Ferris is a direct replacement for Henry, so Willie Faloon retains his position at openside flanker.

Nigel Brady drops to the bench for the return of Best, while Lewis Stevenson makes way for Tuohy.

After impressing last week in his first game in five months, Declan Fitzpatrick will start again at tighthead prop.

There will also be unchanged backline for Saturday, meaning Paddy Jackson gets the nod over Ian Humphreys at outhalf.

"Nobody wants to miss an occasion like this," McLaughlin explained.

"These kind of games don't come around too often, it's been 13 years since we've had a game this big. It really wasn't easy selecting the squad this week."

However he described the loss of Henry as "a huge blow" and said he by no means expecting an easy match.

He continued: "Edinburgh are one of the form teams in Europe. They beat Toulouse, one of the kingpins of the competition, and you have to respect them for that.

"They have a great spine, their pack is full of internationals and they have an excellent back row.

"They have international half backs who are very good at controlling the game so it will be a big challenge for us.

"They are not going to fear coming to the Aviva."

The match kicks off at 5.45pm on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium.

Ulster squad:

(15-9): S Terblanche; A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar. (1-8): T Court, R Best, D Fitzpatrick, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, S Ferris, W Faloon, P Wannenburg.
Replacements (16-23): N Brady, P McAllister, A Macklin, L Stevenson, R Diack, P Marshall, I Humphreys, A D'Arcy.

Unavailable due to injury: J Payne (achilles), S Danielli (hamstring), Tim Barker (back), Chris Henry (ankle).

© UTV News
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