With Ireland’s Tommy Bowe making a rare start at full-back, Ulster will be hoping to celebrate their 100th league outing in style on Friday night with a win over Lynn Howells’ injury-hit Edinburgh side.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, May 11
ULSTER (5th) v EDINBURGH (8th), Ravenhill, 7.30pm
Team News: For his side’s final match of the season, Ulster coach Mark McCall has named Irish international Paddy Wallace at number 10 to allow the Ballymena clubman to get some game-time at out-half ahead of the Irish tour to Argentina in a fortnight’s time – David Humphreys is named on the bench.
Bryn Cunningham is ruled out with a back injury so Tommy Bowe moves to full-back which is the position he played throughout his school days. Paul McKenzie will start on the right wing and his Belfast Harlequins club-mate Darren Cave is named on the replacements bench.
Ireland ‘A’ recruit Ryan Caldwell also misses the game due to a foot injury, allowing Tim Barker to step up to partner Justin Harrison in the second row.
Belfast Harlequins and Ulster ‘A’ lock Lewis Stevenson has named on the bench for the first time – he has been drafted in at the expense of Caldwell. Stevenson, who is leaving Ulster to play at Exeter next season, will be hoping to win his first cap for Ulster against the Scots.
Edinburgh, meanwhile, have been hit by some untimely injuries ahead of their trip to Belfast. Knocks to Matt Dey, Phil Godman and top try scorer Simon Webster mean coach Lynn Howells has had to make alterations to his backline.
Duncan Hodge, Ander Monro and Andrew Turnbull, a debutant who has signed for next season, have all been promoted to a starting line-up that includes only eight of the side that lost 35-9 at home to Munster last weekend.
While the Scots have also made two position changes, Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Alasdair Strokosch and Alan MacDonald have all made way for Dougie Hall, Alasdair Dickinson, Fergus Pringle and Ross Rennie in the forwards.
Ulster: Tommy Bowe; Paul McKenzie, Andrew Trimble, Paul Steinmetz, Andrew Maxwell; Paddy Wallace, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Rory Best, Simon Best (capt), Justin Harrison, Tim Barker, Stephen Ferris, Neil Best, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Nigel Brady, Justin Fitzpatrick, Lewis Stevenson, Neil McMillan, Kieran Campbell, David Humphreys, Darren Cave.
Edinburgh: Ander Monro; Lucio Lopez Fleming, Ben Cairns, Rob Dewey, Andrew Turnbull; Duncan Hodge, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Jacobsen, Dougie Hall, Alasdair Dickinson, Fergus Pringle, Scott Murray (capt), Simon Taylor, Ross Rennie, Allister Hogg.
Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Geoff Cross, Alasdair Strokosch, Alan MacDonald, Simon Cross, John Senio, Peter Jorgensen.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Touch Judges: John Carvill, Paul Haycock (both Ireland)
Team League Statistics: Ulster: Top Points Scorer – David Humphreys 148 (1 try, 25 conversions and 31 penalty goals); Top Try Scorer – Andrew Trimble 7
Edinburgh: Top Points Scorer – Chris Paterson 113 (2 tries, 14 conversions and 25 penalty goals); Top Try Scorer – Simon Webster 4
Previous League Meetings:
September 6, 2002 – Ulster 18 Edinburgh 19, Ravenhill
October 24, 2003 – Edinburgh 3 Ulster 41, Meadowbank
March 26, 2004 – Ulster 37 Edinburgh 0, Ravenhill
September 4, 2004 – Edinburgh 16 Ulster 17, Murrayfield
December 17, 2004 – Ulster 36 Edinburgh 34, Ravenhill
September 16, 2005 – Ulster 30 Edinburgh 23, Ravenhill
February 17, 2006 – Edinburgh 23 Ulster 31, Murrayfield
September 15, 2006 – – Edinburgh 20 Ulster 15, Murrayfield
– Ulster have lost back-to-back matches in the Magners League and have nost lost three in-a-row in the league since the 2004/05 season
– The game is Ulster’s 100th fixture in the history of the league where their record is an impressive: played 99, won 60, drawn 3 and lost 36
– Edinburgh’s only win in their last seven encounters in the Magners League was a 30-20 home triumph over the Dragons on April 6
– Edinburgh won 20-15 against Ulster at Murrayfield in September to end a seven-match winning run for Ulster in this series in all competitions. Edinburgh last won at Ravenhill in September 2002, when they finished as 19-18 victors