With the heat off them due to Connacht’s loss to Cardiff, Ulster will entertain Glasgow Warriors in Belfast on Saturday looking for their first win in four games against Scottish opponents.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, May 3
ULSTER v GLASGOW WARRIORS, Ravenhill, 3pm
Team News: Ulster coach Matt Williams has made five changes to his side as well as one positional switch ahead of this game against Glasgow.
Justin Fitzpatrick will start against the Scots at loosehead prop, replacing Bryan Young who drops to the bench.
In the second row, Ravenhill favourite Justin Harrison is named alongside Carlo Del Fava in what could be Harrison’s last start for Ulster before his move to Bath.
The back row is all change with Neil Best replacing Kieron Dawson and Roger Wilson named at number 8 with Stephen Ferris unavailable due to an injury picked up during Wednesday’s win over Munster.
Full-back Bryn Cunningham drops out of the squad after fracturing his cheekbone on Wednesday evening, with Mark Bartholomeusz set to don the number 15 jersey and fit-again Scottish international Simon Danielli coming onto the left wing.
With Isaac Boss again starting at scrum half, Kieran Campbell has been named on the replacements bench ahead of what could be his last run-out for the province before his switch to Connacht.
Meanwhile, Glasgow have made two changes to the sides that edged out Llanelli last time out. In the back-line, Lome Fa’atau comes in for Daryl Gibson with Max Evans moving to outside centre.
The other change is at hooker where Dougie Hall starts in place of Fergus Thomson.
The visting side also includes three players – Kelly Brown, Thom Evans and Dan Turner – who recently put pen to paper on new contracts with the Scottish club.
ULSTER: Mark Bartholomeusz; Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Rob Dewey, Simon Danielli; Paddy Wallace, Isaac Boss; Justin Fitzpatrick, Rory Best (capt), Tom Court, Carlo Del Fava, Justin Harrison, Matt McCullough, Neil Best, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Nigel Brady, Bryan Young, Ryan Caldwell, Kieron Dawson, Kieran Campbell, Niall O’Connor, Mark McCrea.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Bernardo Stortoni; Lome Fa’atau, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans; Dan Parks (capt), Colin Gregor; Justin Va’a, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Opeta Palepoi, Dan Turner, Kelly Brown, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements: Eric Milligan, Andy Newman, Kevin Tkachuk, James Eddie, Sam Pinder, Scott Barrow, Hefin O’Hare.
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Say What: Matt Williams (Ulster) – “Glasgow are a side who have improved enormously throughout the last season. They play an open and attractive style of rugby and I know some of the players well so I am looking forward to this fixture.
“With the week we have had, the game against Glasgow is a huge challenge. Training has gone well this week, clearly the fixtures and scheduling isn’t perfect but I have had no complaints from the players – they know they just have to get on with it.
“The boys showed real pride (against Munster) on Wednesday night in their defence and Saturday will be no different. It will be another hard 80 minutes and mentally it is all about the heart and playing for the shirt.”
Sean Lineen (Glasgow Warriors) – “(Commenting on the players to re-sign for the club) Kelly Brown has been nothing short of inspirational and Dan Turner has created real competition with Alastair Kellock, which is what every coach wants. Dan never gives anything less than 100%.
“As for Thom, he’s a classy international player in the making. It was crucial that we kept him, he’s a real crowd pleaser.”
Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Ulster: Niall O’Connor 54; Glasgow Warriors: Dan Parks 138; Tries: Ulster: Tommy Bowe, Ryan Caldwell 3 each; Glasgow Warriors: Dan Parks 5.
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, August 24, 2001 – Glasgow Warriors 25 Ulster 25, Hughenden
Saturday, November 30, 2002 – Quarter-Final – Glasgow Warriors 17 Ulster 20, Hughenden
Friday, September 12, 2003 – Ulster 33 Glasgow Warriors 6, Ravenhill
Friday, February 20, 2004 – Glasgow Warriors 27 Ulster 25, Hughenden
Saturday, October 16, 2004 – Glasgow Warriors 34 Ulster 20, Hughenden
Friday, March 4, 2005 – Ulster 30 Glasgow Warriors 3, Ravenhill
Saturday, January 7, 2006 – Ulster 25 Glasgow Warriors 23, Ravenhill
Saturday, April 15, 2006 – Glasgow Warriors 18 Ulster 27, Firhill
Saturday, January 6, 2007 – Glasgow Warriors 8 Ulster 19, Hughenden
Friday, April 27, 2007 – Ulster 10 Glasgow Warriors 24, Ravenhill
Friday, November 2, 2007 – Glasgow Warriors 25 Ulster 6, Firhill
– Ulster beat Munster 19-9 in a rearranged game at Ravenhill on Wednesday evening, but they have lost their last three games against Scottish opponents
– Glasgow Warriors have won their last three matches in the Magners League against the Newport Gwent Dragons, Edinburgh and the Llanelli Scarlets
– The Warriors have lost on their last three visits to Ireland
– Glasgow beat Ulster 25-6 at Firhill in November and have never previously achieved a season’s league double over the Ulstermen