Leinster and Ulster Gear Up for European Rugby Quarter-Finals

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Leinster and Ulster continue their European adventures on Saturday with the pair facing Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, respectively.

Leinster will have fresh legs after a week off courtesy of a positive Toulon coronavirus test which led to the four-time Champions Cup winners being awarded a bye.

Johnny Sexton may return after failing his head injury assessment against Munster in the Pro14 final, but Leinster has strength in depth if he does not make the squad with the Byrne brothers on the books.

The mix of rising stars and established veterans as players like Rhys Ruddock and Scott Penny have shone for the provincial outfit this season.

Exeter Chiefs will look to continue the defense of their European title against Ireland’s European giants.

Rob Baxter’s men have not looked as strong as last season with three losses in their last seven games but will be fired up at the chance to make a statement against Ireland’s only side remaining in European competition.

The Chiefs’ seven-try showing at home to Lyon in their most recent game, however, could be a taster of what is to come this weekend at Sandy Park.

Later that night in the Challenge Cup, Northampton Saints will host Ulster, who are looking to win their first Challenge Cup in their first-ever Challenge Cup campaign.

Both sides have a history of success in Europe with two Champions Cups between them.

The teams have fallen from the top tier of Europe’s elite but will look to move a step closer to regaining that status with a win on Saturday night.

The Saints came from behind to steal the game from the Dragons at Rodney Parade last weekend, but they will need to iron out their inconsistency if they are to topple Dan McFarland’s Ulster.

The former Scotland assistant coach has Ulster on a positive trajectory as they are now challenging for silverware on a consistent basis.

Having finished runners-up in the Pro 14’s Conference A, the northern province will want to take advantage of the opportunity they have to earn their first piece of silverware in 15 years.

An eight-try rout of Harlequins displayed the attacking rugby that the Ulstermen are capable of, but they may find it tougher against Lewis Ludlam and co. this weekend.

Exeter Chiefs and Leinster kick-off at 5:30 pm on Saturday with Ulster’s game against Northampton starting later at 8 pm.

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