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Magners Preview: Ospreys v Ulster

Magners Preview: Ospreys v Ulster

Ulster face into their second successive trip to Wales, bidding for their first win at Liberty Stadium since they won the league title there in May 2006. Injuries from last week’s defeats have hampered them, and the Ospreys, who have won their last five matches against Ulster, will be keen to build on their opening success at Connacht.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, September 12

OSPREYS (3rd) v ULSTER (10th), Liberty Stadium, 6.30pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland/S4C)

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Team News: Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has named his Ulster side for Saturday’s Magners League encounter with the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium.

In the Ulster pack, Ed O’Donoghue steps in for Ryan Caldwell who is currently rehabbing after an ankle injury received in last weekend’s game at the Dragons.

Clinton Schifcofske replaces the injured Bryn Cunningham at full-back, while Darren Cave comes in to partner Ian Whitten in the centre.

Ulster’s newest signing, Tamaiti Horua, starts his first match on the bench.

Chris Henry will once again captain the Ulster side in Rory Best’s injury-enforced absence.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Thomas will return for the Ospreys against Ulster after seven months out through a groin injury.

He is joined among the replacements by Ireland and Lions star Tommy Bowe, who will make his first appearance of the season if he introduced off the bench.

Sonny Parker will start in midfield, partnering Andrew Bishop who was a late withdrawal for last week’s win in Connacht. Jonathan Spratt, who was suffering from fatigue earlier in the week, is the player to miss out.

OSPREYS: Barry Davies; Jonny Vaughton, Sonny Parker, Andrew Bishop, Nikki Walker; James Hook, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Cai Griffiths, Ian Gough, Andy Lloyd, Jerry Collins, Marty Holah, Ryan Jones (capt).

Replacements: Huw Bennett, Duncan Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Tom Smith, Jamie Nutbrown, Dan Biggar, Tommy Bowe.

ULSTER: Clinton Schifcofske; Timoci Nagusa, Darren Cave, Ian Whitten, Simon Danielli; Ian Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Andy Kyriacou, BJ Botha, Dan Tuohy, Ed O’Donoghue, Chris Henry (capt), Willie Faloon, Robbie Diack.

Replacements: Nigel Brady, Declan Fitzpatrick, Tamaiti Horua, Thomas Anderson, Cillian Willis, Niall O’Connor, Jonny Shiels.

Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Hugh Watkins, Waynes Davies (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Neil Ballard (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ospreys to win: 1/8; Draw: 25/1; Ulster to win: 9/2

Say What: Jeremy Davidson (Ulster) – “We all know that the Ospreys are a star-studded side and we are looking for a big performance this week.

“You just have to look at the Ospreys squad to see what strength and depth they have. Pick any of the players and they have a strong team, so we know that Liberty Stadium is going to be a big ask.

“We will go there primarily to look for a performance and hopefully we can pull something out.

“In that respect we are hoping to put a lot of things straight after the disappointment of last week.

“All the players have worked their socks off in training and are in the best physical condition they have ever been.

“We will be looking forward to getting our international players back into the team soon, as there is no doubt their return can bring performances up a level.”

Jonathan Humphreys (Ospreys) – “We’re pretty satisfied with the result in Connacht last week, to come away from what is a difficult place with a win.

“It could have been far worse, there was some surprising results in the first week. It was our intention to get off to a positive start and we did that.

“There’s still a lot for us to work on, which is quite pleasing really, we don’t want to be hitting the ground at 100%, we are building into it and as the season progresses we’ll pick up the percentages as we go.

“We want to go out on Saturday and send the right messages out to our supporters, in terms of what we want to achieve this season.

“We’re very excited about coming back for the start of the season and it’ll be great to see a big crowd waiting for us.

“As long as our mentality is right, as long as we show the pride I expect in the performance for the first home game and set the standards, we’ll be alright and it will set us off in good stead for the rest of the season. The rest will follow.”


Friday, September 22, 2006 – Ulster 43 Ospreys 7, Ravenhill
Saturday, January 27, 2007 – Ospreys 29 Ulster 22, Liberty Stadium
Friday, September 21, 2007 – Ulster 17 Ospreys 16, Ravenhill
Friday, March 28, 2008 – Ospreys 32 Ulster 7, Liberty Stadium
Saturday, September 27, 2008 – Ospreys 43 Ulster 0, Liberty Stadium
Friday, April 3, 2009 – Ulster 13 Ospreys 16, Ravenhill


– The Ospreys have won three of their last four matches in the Magners League, but have lost two of their last three games against Irish opposition at Liberty Stadium

– Ulster have slipped to successive defeats in the Magners League, at the Scarlets and Dragons, and will be keen to end their run of 15 successive games in Wales without a win

– The Ospreys have won their last five matches against Ulster in all competitions since a 17-16 defeat at Ravenhill in the Magners League on September 21, 2007

– The Ulstermen’s only previous victory at Liberty Stadium was on their first visit on May 26, 2006 when they secured the Magners League title