Connacht and Ulster will both be looking to get back to winning ways on Friday when they meet in the third of this season's provincial derbies.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, October 6
CONNACHT v ULSTER, The Sportsground, 6.30pm
**IrishRugby.ie will be running a live match tracker from the Sportsground**
Team News: Connacht have made two changes to the side that lost to Leinster for the visit of Ulster to the Sportsground.
Samoan Ray Ofisa will make his first competitive start for the province - he comes in for Matt Lacey, who drops to the bench, at openside flanker. The other alteration sees Keith Matthews come back in on the left wing in place of Conor McPhillips (hamstring).
Scrum half Conor O'Loughlin (shoulder), prop Ronan Loughney (knee), hooker Joe Merrigan (foot), lock David McGowan (hamstring) and prop Stephen Knoop (back) are all currently nursing injuries.
Ulster have made three changes to their starting line-up - New Zealand centre Paul Steinmetz has not fully recovered from a shoulder injury and is replaced by Kevin Maggs in the centre, while Ireland winger Tommy Bowe (hamstring) is also ruled out - Andrew Maxwell is promoted back to the right wing. Scott Young has also been drafted onto the replacements bench.
In the back row, Stephen Ferris starts this week ahead of Neil McMillan.
Connacht: Daniel Riordan; Matt Mostyn, Darren Yapp, Gavin Williams, Keith Matthews; Mark McHugh, Chris Keane; Brett Wilkinson, John Fogarty (capt), Ray Hogan, David Gannon, Andrew Farley, John Muldoon, Ray Ofisa, Colm Rigney.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Brett Sturgess, Michael Swift, Matt Lacey, Tom Tierney, Paul Warwick, Ted Robinson.
Ulster: Bryn Cunningham; Andrew Maxwell, Kevin Maggs, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble; David Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Justin Fitzpatrick, Rory Best, Bryan Young, Justin Harrison (capt), Matt McCullough, Neil Best, Stephen Ferris, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Paul Shields, Declan Fitzpatrick, Tim Barker, Kieron Dawson, Neil McMillan, Kieran Campbell, Scott Young.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Touch Judges: Olan Trevor, Trevor Collins (both Ireland)
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
November 2003 - Connacht 31 Ulster 20, The Sportsground
April 2004 - Ulster 42 Connacht 27, Ravenhill
September 2004 - Connacht 13 Ulster 19, The Sportsground
January 2005 - Ulster 23 Connacht 14, Ravenhill
October 2005 - Ulster 36 Connacht 10, Ravenhill
December 2005 - Connacht 22 Ulster 12, The Sportsground
- Connacht are winless in their last three Magners League encounters - against the Scarlets, Edinburgh and Leinster. The westerners have won just one of their last 15 games against their fellow Irish provinces - 22-12 in this equivalent fixture last season
- Champions Ulster have stuttered a little of late with two defeats in their last three matches. Away from home against fellow Irish sides, the Ulstermen have won just once since September 2004 - a 20-17 victory over Munster in Cork last December
- A win would take Ulster back to the top of the Magners League. They have won four of their last five clashes with Connacht, but they were held tryless when they visited Galway last December. Out-half David Humphreys kicked four penalties as the men in white were beaten by the hosts, who counted on flanker Matt Lacey, number 10 David Slemen and winger Conor McPhillips for tries
- That 22-12 victory ended a four-match losing run for Connacht. Centre-cum-out-half Paul Warwick has scored 20 points in three of the sides' last four meetings - six penalties and a conversion. McPhillips has pocketed two tries in the last three seasons against Ulster
- Connacht will be happy that Ireland winger Tommy Bowe (hamstring) is missing from the Ulster squad. The Monaghan man has bagged four tries in five outings against Connacht, including one of Ulster's five touchdowns in their 36-10 win at Ravenhill last October
- Humphreys and Connacht out-half Mark McHugh are currently the two leading scorers in the Magners League. Humphreys has collected 79 points (1 try, 10 conversions and 18 penalties) in five appearances, while McHugh's five games have seen him tally up 66 points (1 try, 5 conversions and 17 penalties).
McHugh has the slightly better kicking average at 78.57% (22 successes from 28 attempts) with Humphreys on 77.78% (28 out of 36)