- Teams from three home nations to clash in quarter finals
- All RFU Championship battle betweeen Nottingham and Cornish Pirates
Photo: RFU Archive
The quarter- finals of the British & Irish Cup kick off on Friday night with an all- Irish affair at Ravenhill between Ulster Ravens and Munster ‘A’. Ulster qualified for the knockout stages with a perfect pool record of four wins from four, while Munster got through as one of the two best runners- up.
But Munster have won all of the last five meetings between the sides, including a B&I Cup semi- final at Thomond Park in the 2009/10 competition.
Welsh bragging rights will be at stake in the solitary quarter- final tie to take place on Saturday, as competition newcomers Cross Keys entertain Llanelli. Cross Keys won three of their four games in the group stages to finish on top of Pool A, while two wins and a draw were enough for the Scarlets to progress. Cross Keys won 33-20 when the sides met in the Welsh Premiership at Pandy Park earlier this season.
There is a double- header to look forward to on Sunday with an all RFU Championship clash between Cornish Pirates v Nottingham. It is only a fortnight since Nottingham’s last visit to the Mennaye Field, which resulted in a 26-24 Championship win for the Pirates. With honours even in the league clash at Meadow Lane, another closely- fought encounter is expected this weekend.
Nottingham’s Director of Rugby, Glenn Delaney said, “We have had two very good matches against the Pirates already this season. In both matches we were ahead for long periods but have succumbed to late points which have cost us victory.
Anything can happen – Glenn Delaney
“Now we’re in the knockout stages anything can happen and we’re hoping to go as far as possible.We know this will be another tough match, but we’re excited by the challenge and we’ll go into the match backing ourselves to do what’s required to win.”
Across the water, Leinster ‘A’ welcome Pontypridd after having recorded four straight wins to top their pool, while the visitors, who were beaten by eventual champions Bristol at the semi- final stage last year, also went through as pool winners thanks to wins over Leeds Carnegie and Swansea.
And as head coach Dale McIntosh says, his squad will have to put their narrow to defeat to Bridgend in the league to one side in order to secure a place in the semi-finals:
“The players and ourselves as coaches were left totally frustrated by the Bridgend game” said McIntosh.
“We played well enough for long periods but when we needed to close the game down, we couldn’t. We are good enough and experienced enough now to win games like that, which we should have done. We will draw a line in the sand and move on.
“Leinster will provide formidable opposition and we certainly have to play our A game to have any hope of a result. It will all be down to the performance, if we achieve our maximum then we are certainly capable of getting the win. We hope to go out there and do Pontypridd proud.”