Ulster have never been beaten by the Border Reivers - in six competitive clashes - and Mark McCall's men do no intend on losing that record when the Scots visit Ravenhill tonight.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, November 3
ULSTER v BORDER REIVERS, Ravenhill, 7.30pm
Team News: Mark McCall has made a wholesale ten changes for Ulster's return to Magners League action - the upcoming Autumn Tests mean the province are without six of their star names.
Good news for Ulster fans is that Australian full-back Mark Bartholomeusz and team captain Simon Best, the Ireland prop, both return from spells out with injury.
It will be Bartholomeusz's first start in four weeks, while Best has not started a game for Ulster in the past six months after suffering a broken leg. Bartholomeusz replaces the injured Bryn Cunningham, while Tim Barker comes in for Matt McCullough in the second row.
Interestingly, former Ulster Academy player Paul McKenzie, who has been lining out with Belfast Harlequins in the AIB League, is named on the bench for the first time. He is on a development contract.
Borders boss Steve Bates has made eight alterations - two of which are positional - to his side for the trip to Belfast.
National Academy prop Ryan Grant will make his his first start for the Reivers, who were beaten by Northampton in the Heineken Cup last weekend.
With hooker Ross Ford out due to a suspension imposed on him by the club, Steve Scott starts - making his first start of the season - while Bruce Douglas returns at tighthead prop.
Ross Beattie has recovered from a hamstring injury and will don the number 8 jersey.
Ulster: Mark Bartholomeusz; Scott Young, Kevin Maggs, Paul Steinmetz, Andrew Maxwell; David Humphreys, Kieran Campbell; Justin Fitzpatrick, Paul Shields, Simon Best (capt), Justin Harrison, Tim Barker, Stephen Ferris, Kieron Dawson, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Nigel Brady, Declan Fitzpatrick, Matt McCullough, Neil McMillan, Paul Marshall, Adam Larkin, Paul McKenzie.
Borders: Calum MacRae; Simon Danielli, Ben MacDougall, Garry Law/Nick De Luca, Brendon Daniel; Steve Jones, Chris Cusiter (capt); Ryan Grant, Steve Scott, Bruce Douglas, Craig Hamilton, John Dalziel, Scott Gray, Andy Miller, Ross Beattie.
Replacements: Sean Crombie, Ed Kalman, Richie Vernon, Scott Newlands, Brendan McKerchar, Gregor Townsend, Garry Law/Nick De Luca.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Coach Speak: Mark McCall (Ulster) - "Borders obviously have had a poor start to the season, but in their last three games they have defeated a full strength Leinster team in the Magners League, got a bonus point victory in their first Heineken Cup game - although they were on the end of a heavy defeat but that only came after 65 minutes when they were in the match and only for a sin-binning, it really cost them.
"If you look at their squad, it is very competitive with a lot of Scottish internationals in there. We have got to be on our guard.
"There is clearly going to be an expectation that we will win and win well. But we know we have to do the right things - to get our basics right."
Steve Bates (Borders) - "We need to take the intensity from the Northampton game forward into this match against Ulster.
"We have learnt some important lessons in the Heineken Cup and we are looking forward to putting what we have learned into practice in the Magners League."
Match Odds: Paddy Power - To Win: Ulster 1/10, Borders 11/2; Draw: 33/1
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
November 2003 - Ulster 46 Borders 5, Ravenhill
April 2004 - Borders 15 Ulster 19, Netherdale
November 2004 - Borders 19 Ulster 20, Netherdale
March 2005 - Ulster 17 Borders 13, Ravenhill
October 2005 - Ulster 27 Borders 0, Netherdale
May 2006 - Ulster 63 Borders 17, Ravenhill
- Defending champions and top of the table, Ulster have won back-to-back matches in the Magners League against Connacht and the Blues. Ulster are gunning for their tenth successive home win in the league - their last opponents to win at Ravenhill were Leinster on December 26 last year
- Border Reivers won their most recent Magners League tie 22-19 at home to Leinster on October 13. The Reivers have won just one of their last eleven away league games - beating Glasgow 20-8 last March
- Ulster have won all six previous meetings between the sides, including the two last season which saw them run in 12 tries in those two encounters
- Andrew Maxwell, Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe each scored two tries in last May's whopping 63-17 win for Ulster over the Borders at Ravenhill. Ulster out-half David Humphreys has tallied up 42 points in four games against the Scots
- Humphreys is currently the top scorer in the Magners League with 95 points in seven appearances (1 try, 15 conversions and 20 penalties). His kicking success rate stands at 77.78% thanks to 35 successful kicks out of 45
- Borders full-back Calum MacRae is their top scorer, having taken his kicking success rate to 75% (12 out of 16). He has kicked 1 conversion and 11 penalties for a 35-point haul
- Injured Ulster full-back Bryn Cunningham is Ulster's top try scorer with four tries in seven games in the Magners League