Ulster could extend their lead at the top of the Magners League with victory over the Blues, who have never won at Ravenhill, on Saturday.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, October 14
ULSTER v CARDIFF BLUES, Ravenhill, 5.30pm (live Setanta Sports)
Team News: Ulster team and replacements to be confirmed.
Ben White and Ed Fairhurst will both make their first starts for the Cardiff Blues as the Welsh Region returns to league action after last week's defeat of Saracens in the EDF Energy Cup.
In all, the Blues management have made eight changes - notably New Zealand duo Ben Blair and Xavier Rush, the team captain, are out injured. Full-back Blair has had an injection in his knee and should be back in training in the next couple of days while back row Rush has tweaked his groin. Wales hooker Rhys Thomas is being rested ahead of the start of the Heineken Cup.
Ulster Squad: Backs - Bryn Cunningham, Andrew Maxwell, Scott Young, Paul Steinmetz, Kevin Maggs, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble, David Humphreys, Adam Larkin, Isaac Boss, Kieran Campbell.
Forwards - Justin Fitzpatrick, Bryan Young, Declan Fitzpatrick, Rory Best, Paul Shields, Justin Harrison (capt), Matt McCullough, Tim Barker, Stephen Ferris, Neil Best, Kieron Dawson, Neil McMillan, Roger Wilson.
Cardiff Blues: Nick Macleod; Chris Czekaj, Jamie Robinson, Marc Stcherbina, Rhys Williams; Nick Robinson, Ed Fairhurst; Mark Lewis, Ben White, Scott Morgan, James Goode, Deiniol Jones, Gary Powell, Duane Goodfield, John Yapp.
Replacements: Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Williams, Bradley Davies, Martyn Williams, Wayne Evans, Tom Shanklin, David Flannigan.
Referee: Andy Ireland (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Ger English, Dudley Phillips (both Ireland)
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
October 2003 - Ulster 32 Cardiff 7, Ravenhill
April 2004 - Cardiff 19 Ulster 15, Arms Park
November 2004 - Ulster 30 Cardiff 14, Ravenhill
April 2005 - Cardiff 22 Ulster 8, Arms Park
September 2005 - Cardiff 22 Ulster 25, Arms Park
May 2006 - Ulster 26 Cardiff 17, Ravenhill
- Ulster returned to the top of the Magners League table with a 24-17 win over Connacht last Friday, and will be all out to extend their winning home run beyond the current eight-match streak. Ulster have not lost to a Welsh team in 2006
- Cardiff have won their last three matches in all competitions, althought they have not won on the road in the league since an 18-13 victory at the Dragons last April. Since March 2003, the Blues have won just once in ten visits to Ireland - 18-8 against Connacht in January 2005
- Ulster did the league double over the Blues last season, whilst Dai Young's men have never won in four previous visits to Ravenhill
- David Humphreys is still blazing a trail at the top of the scoring charts. The Ulster out-half has tallied up 88 points in his six league appearances so far (1 try, 13 conversions and 19 penalties). Cardiff's leading scorer is their number 10 Nicky Robinson with 28 points in three games (1 try, 1 conversion, 5 penalties and 2 drop goals)
- Humphreys has been successful with 32 of his 40 attempts at goal so far in the Magners League, giving him a success rate of 80%. Robinson has kicked six of his 11 attempts (54.55%). Full-back Bryn Cunningham and centre Paul Steinmetz are Ulster's top try scorers with three apiece
- Tommy Bowe, who is out injured for Ulster, has scored two tries in the sides' last three meetings. Cunningham bagged a brace of tries in the first ever Ulster-Cardiff league clash back in October 2003, while on the Welsh side, centre Tom Shanklin has scored three tries for the Blues in their last five encounters with Ulster