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Magners Preview: Border Reivers v Ulster

Magners Preview: Border Reivers v Ulster

Ulster face a must-win match against the Border Reivers tonight as the defending champions look to keep pace at the top of the Magners League table with the Ospreys and Leinster.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, April 13

BORDER REIVERS (11th) v ULSTER (3rd), Netherdale, 7.30pm (deferred coverage Setanta Sports Ireland, 11.10pm)

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Team News: Ulster coach Mark McCall has included both Darren Cave and David Pollock, who recently won the Six Nations title and Grand Slam with the Ireland U-20s, in his matchday 22 for the first time. It is centre Cave’s first time in the province’s senior squad.

Bottom side Borders have made four changes – one positional – to the starting line-up they used against Llanelli last weekend.

In the back division, Nick De Luca starts in the centre, switching with Bryan Rennie who moves to the bench. In the pack, John Dalziel moves to flanker making room for Craig Hamilton who starts in the second row alongside Opeta Palepoi.

Palepoi moves to the other side of the scrum from last week as Hamilton pulls on the number five shirt.

Borders: Stuart Moffat; Dougie Flockhart, Ben MacDougall, Nick De Luca, Garry Law; Steve Jones, Chris Cusiter (capt); Gavin Kerr, Ross Ford, Bruce Douglas, Opeta Palepoi, Craig Hamilton, John Dalziel, Andy Miller, Kelly Brown.

Replacements: Steve Scott, Bruce McNeil, Stuart Grimes, Richie Vernon, Rob Chrystie, Gregor Townsend, Bryan Rennie.

Ulster: Bryn Cunningham; Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Maxwell; David Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Rory Best, Simon Best (capt), Justin Harrison, Ryan Caldwell, Stephen Ferris, Neil Best, Roger Wilson.

Replacements: Paul Shields, Justin Fitzpatrick, Tim Barker, David Pollock, Kieran Campbell, Darren Cave, Paul McKenzie.

Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Touch Judges: Graham Knox, Graham Allen (both Scotland)

Team League Statistics: Borders: Top Points Scorer – Calum MacRae 68 (4 conversions and 20 penalty goals)

Ulster: Top Points Scorer – David Humphreys 130 (1 try, 22 conversions and 27 penalty goals); Top Try Scorers – Paul Steinmetz, Andrew Trimble 5 each

Previous League Meetings:

November 2003 – Ulster 46 Borders 5, Ravenhill
April 2004 – Border Reivers 15 Ulster 19, Netherdale
November 2004 – Border Reivers 19 Ulster 20, Netherdale
March 2005 – Ulster 17 Border Reivers 13, Ravenhill
October 2005 – Border Reivers 0 Ulster 27, Netherdale
May 2006 – Ulster 63 Border Reivers 17, Ravenhill
November 2006 – Ulster 32 Border Reivers 8, Ravenhill

Match Facts:

– The Borders won 10-3 against Edinburgh the last time they played at Netherdale. Steve Bates’ side have already beaten Irish opposition at the Galashiels venue this season – Leinster lost 22-19 there in the league on October 13

– Ulster’s form seems to have deserted them of late with just one win from their last six encounters in all competitions – a 14-7 defeat of the Dragons at Ravenhill on February 16

– Ulster have won 12 of the last 13 matches they have played against Scottish opponents

– Ulster have won all seven previous meetings against the Borders, including a 32-8 victory at Ravenhill in November