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Three Changes For Ulster

Three Changes For Ulster

Ulster have made three changes – two in personnel – for Saturday’s tricky Celtic League trip to face the Newport-Gwent Dragons.

Andrew Trimble on the attack against Edinburgh last week

Ulster have made three changes – two in personnel – for Saturday’s tricky Celtic League trip to face the Newport-Gwent Dragons.

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CELTIC LEAGUE: Saturday, September 24

Newport-Gwent Dragons v Ulster, Rodney Parade, 5.30pm (live Setanta Sports)

Ulster coach Mark McCall has overcome a potential selection headache by opting to field one of the League’s form players to date – Ireland Under-21 Andrew Trimble – at inside centre in a mouth-watering midfield partnership with veteran international Kevin Maggs. The duo played together in last month’s friendly win over Rotherham.

A broken jaw for Kiwi Paul Steinmetz, which will be examined today in Dublin, meant a backline shuffle for the table-topping province. Trimble’s switch from the left wing sees former Ireland winger James Topping come in for a start.

The only other change sees Ulster’s hookers rotated – Paul Shields makes way for Rory Best.

Ulster will be all out to maintain their 100% start to the campaign against a Dragons side who have beaten the men in white on the last three occasions they have met.

Rodney Parade has also been an unhappy hunting ground for the province with three defeats in three visits. Fortunately for Ulster, Paul Turner’s Dragons are not hitting the heights yet in the League – they have lost their last two outings, culminating in last Friday’s 33-14 reversal against Leinster at Donnybrook.

Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Trimble, who only made his competitive home debut, caught the eye of one observer in last week’s 30-23 defeat of Edinburgh. Ironically Trimble’s try came at Ravenhill’s infamous “Crossan’s Corner” and the legendary Ulster and Ireland winger Keith Crossan reckons Trimble has a great future.

Crossan told the Belfast Telegraph: “I had heard great reports about Andrew and I went to Ravenhill last Friday especially to watch how he got on on the left wing. I thought he did really well – I mean he scored a great try, it took me long enough to get a pass when I played for Ulster!

“I would like to see the ball moved about a little bit more so that the boys do get more opportunity and that will come with the confidence from the good start.

“Players like Andrew will have no inhibitions about playing against any opposition. All I would say to him is – enjoy your rugby, take your chances when they come along and just make sure and keep going.”

Dragons: 2005/06 Form: WW(Free week)LL; Position: 7th; Top Points Scorer: Craig Warlow 15; Top Try Scorer: Jason Forster 2; Last Season: Ulster 21 Dragons 28, Dragons 13 Ulster 11

Ulster: 2005/06 Form: W(Free week)WW; Position: 1st; Top Points Scorer: David Humphreys 40; Top Try Scorer: Tommy Bowe 2

DRAGONS Squad: tbc

ULSTER: Paddy Wallace; Tommy Bowe, Kevin Maggs, Andrew Trimble, James Topping; David Humphreys, Kieran Campbell; Justin Fitzpatrick, Rory Best, Simon Best (Capt), Justin Harrison, Matt McCullough, Neil Best, Neil McMillan, Roger Wilson.

Replacements: Paul Shields, Bryan Young, Rowan Frost, Campbell Feather, Reece Spee, Shane Stewart, Tyrone Howe.

Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)