Ulster got back to winning ways in the Magners League last Friday and will hope to make it two wins on the trot tonight when Andy Robinson’s Edinburgh side pay a visit to Ravenhill.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, November 30
ULSTER v EDINBURGH, Ravenhill, 7.30pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland)
Team News: Scotland international Rob Dewey and Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam-winning captain David Pollock will both start Ulster’s Magners League game against Edinburgh at Ravenhill.
Following Ulster’s crucial win over Connacht last Friday, a positive result against Edinburgh could see the men in white move further up the Magners League table and help get their season back on track.
Steve Williams, the province’s caretaker coach, has made just two changes to the starting line-up that secured a 30-13 victory at the Sportsground last week.
Dewey will start against his former club Edinburgh as he replaces Paul Steinmetz at inside centre. Williams said: “Dewey is a powerful player and has trained well this week, I know that he’s looking forward to running out at Ravenhill against his old club.”
Former Ulster Academy player Pollock will start in the back row, lining up beside Neil Best and Roger Wilson, with Kieron Dawson acting as cover on the replacements bench.
The powerful back rower made his Heineken Cup debut less than two weeks ago against Bourgoin and is looking forward to running out at Ravenhill.
The 20-year-old Pollock said: “Ulster fans are very vocal so no matter how many people come along to watch they always make their presence felt, which is why it’s such a pleasure to play at Ravenhill because it has such a special atmosphere.”
Meanwhile, Andy Robinson has welcomed back centre Matt Dey and out-half Phil Godman into Edinburgh’s starting line-up for the trip to Belfast.
Dey made his first appearance for the club since September when he made an impact as a replacement during Edinburgh’s win over Llanelli Scarlets last Sunday, while Scotland international Godman has been omitted from the starting line-up for five games.
Godman swaps places with David Blair, who drops to the replacements bench, while Dey comes in for John Houston, who is ruled out with a dead leg.
Houston’s withdrawal is one of four changes to the side that defeated the Scarlets in Robinson’s first win in charge of the club with Hugo Southwell (sprained ankle) replaced by Ben Cairns at full-back and Scotland prop Gavin Kerr reclaiming the number three jersey.
Scotland winger Simon Webster is unavailable because of a back injury, so former Ulster favourite Andrew Maxwell continues in the number 11 jersey against his old club.
Ulster: Mark Bartholomeusz; Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Rob Dewey, Simon Danielli; Paddy Wallace, Isaac Boss; Justin Fitzpatrick, Rory Best (capt), Bryan Young, Matt McCullough, Carlo Del Fava, Neil Best, David Pollock, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Nigel Brady, Declan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Caldwell, Kieron Dawson, Kieran Campbell, Niall O’Connor, Paul Steinmetz.
Edinburgh: Ben Cairns; Andrew Turnbull, Nick De Luca, Matt Dey, Andrew Maxwell; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Gavin Kerr, Matt Mustchin, Ben Gissing, Roland Reid, Ross Rennie, David Callam.
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Augusto Allori, Craig Hamilton, Simon Cross, Ben Meyer, David Blair, Alistair Warnock.
Referee: David Rose (England)
Coach Speak: Steve Williams (Ulster) – “Edinburgh have had a lot of changes as well. They have a new coach in and like us, they were missing a lot of players as well (when the sides met in September). It will be a different game.
“Edinburgh are a good side, as we saw against the Scarlets on Sunday when they came back to beat them. They like to move the ball quite a bit and they will bring different challenges for us from last week’s match (against Connacht).
“They like to move the ball wide and we will have to be ready for that. We have prepared as well as we can.
“Regarding the team selection, the players I choose to start are chosen because of the attributes they have are suited to a particular game. For future matches the side that we need to send out will be different, but at the minute the players selected have qualities that I think are needed for the task ahead.”
Andy Robinson (Edinburgh) – “The two players (Matt Dey and Phil Godman) have worked really hard and therefore now when they are handed opportunities they have to take them. The key to getting into the team is when you are performing that you play well.
“It is hard for players when they are not getting the starts they probably would have got last year. But what is important for them is that they understand that by working hard they can get back into the team.
“Now they are in the side though it is not about them switching off, but instead pushing up some more gears in order to stay there.
“It is disappointing when you get injuries, but that is part of the ferocity of the games we have played in the Magners League and the Heineken Cup. Now it is a case of players, who have been waiting for opportunities, to take them.”
Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Ulster: Niall O’Connor 23; Edinburgh: Phil Godman 29; Tries: Ulster: Simon Danielli, Mark Bartholomeusz, Tom Court, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Kieron Dawson, Roger Wilson, Carlo De Fava 1 each; Edinburgh: Nick De Luca 3.
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
May 11, 2007: Ulster 16 Edinburgh 10, Ravenhill
September 28, 2007: Edinburgh 24 Ulster 10, Murrayfield
– Ulster won their first match in any competition since September with their 30-13 victory at Connacht last Friday
– Ulster have lost just one of their last dozen games against Scottish sides at Ravenhill since 2002 – a 24-10 reversal to Glasgow in the Magners League on April 27 last
– Edinburgh also won their first game since September with their 27-17 victory over Llanelli Scarlets at Murrayfield last Sunday. Edinburgh have not managed back-to-back victories since September-October 2006
– Edinburgh have not won in Ireland since beating Munster at Thomond Park on October 13, 2006. Edinburgh have already beaten Ulster this season and are chasing a first ever season’s double over the men in white