Rónan Kelleher said Leinster must find a way to negative Ulster's mauling game if they are to maintain their 100% start to the season.

The two leading sides in the BKT United Rugby Championship collide at the RDS on Saturday and driving mauls have played a key part in their winning runs.

Dan Sheehan profited from lineout drives during Kelleher’s injury-enforced absence, with one of his six tries coming in the 20-13 victory in Belfast at the end of September.

John Andrew responded in similar fashion for Ulster in what was their only defeat to date, and Dan McFarland’s side have made more maul metres [212] than any other team in the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Rónan Kelleher (second from left) impressed on his return from injury against Glasgow as Leinster claimed an eighth successive victory

"You look at their personnel - Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson - they’re really good in that area," said Leinster hooker Kelleher.

"We’re going to have to look to stop them there, but we’re well aware of that threat. We’ll be working this week to make sure we negate that.

"What else are we expecting from Ulster? Much of the same really. Their defence was really strong [in September], it was very difficult to break them down.

"We're going to have to be very accurate from the beginning of the game and really try and get into our flow.

"Very tight game, very small margins, we just have to hope we're on the right side of them."

Ulster won 20-10 at the RDS last season

Kelleher made his first appearance in almost two months in last weekend's win over Glasgow after a hamstring injury ruled him out of Ireland's autumn Tests.

It has been a frustrating year for the 24-year-old, who missed the final three games of this year’s Six Nations and the successful summer tour of New Zealand due to shoulder injuries.

"It was very disappointing, especially the timing of the [hamstring] injury," he said.

"I had a good pre-season, was training a lot, and then the timing of it was just very unfortunate.

"I’ve been working hard to get back. Last weekend I was delighted to get back out on the field.

"With the success the Ireland lads had over the November internationals, it was disappointing not being involved or in that environment. I’ve been working hard to get back and now I have, I’m raring to go. All guns blazing, really."

Leinster need all hands on deck for a busy second block of fixtures. The 40-5 dismantling of Glasgow was the first of 10 games in as many weeks, and Kelleher said the Ulster game serves as ideal preparation for the upcoming Heineken Champions Cup fixtures against Racing 92 and Gloucester.

"I think so, but there’s also a bit riding on this in terms of first and second in the league," he said.

"A win for us would mean a bit more breathing room at the top, while a win for them puts them right back in it and up there with ourselves.

"There’s definitely a bit more of an intensity for this game, especially with the block that we’re in now.

"It’s going to be really important to keep our momentum going and try to make sure we get a win here."

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