A frustrating midweek defeat to the Ospreys and a quickly arranged boat trip across to Scotland is hardly the ideal lead-in for Ulster to tonight’s Magners League clash with Glasgow Warriors, but Brian McLaughlin’s much-changed side are sure to be fired up to get the right result and put an end to their poor recent run.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, April 16
GLASGOW WARRIORS (5th) v ULSTER (8th), Firhill Stadium, 7.05pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland)
Team News: Nevin Spence, who starred during the Ireland Under-20s’ recent Championship-winning campaign, has been named in the Ulster team for Friday’s Magners League match against Glasgow Warriors.
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has made seven changes in personnel to the team that went down 38-27 to the Ospreys on Tuesday.
With Paddy Wallace nursing a thigh injury, Simon Danielli switches to the full-back role and youngster Spence comes in to make his full competitive debut for the province. He was used as a replacement towards the end of the Ospreys game.
The half-backs have been changed for the Scottish trip as Niall O’Connor and Isaac Boss drop to the bench and Ian Humphreys and Paul Marshall get a chance to impress from the start.
With four changes up front, McLaughlin has plumped for an entirely new front row in the form of Tom Court, Andi Kyriacou and Declan Fitzpatrick.
Kyriacou comes in for the injured Rory Best (calf) at hooker, and the final change sees Ryan Caldwell preferred to Dan Tuohy in the second row. Nigel Brady and Jamie Smith have been added to the replacements.
Meanwhile, classy flanker John Barclay has recovered from a stomach bug to make the Glasgow Warriors’ starting line-up for the second of their three home matches this month.
Barclay, who withdrew from the team during the warm-up prior to the 27-19 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons two weeks ago, will reform the ‘Killer Bs’ back row unit alongside Kelly Brown and Johnnie Beattie.
Scotland captain Chris Cusiter has shaken of a calf injury sufficiently to win a place on the replacements bench, with Mark McMillan continuing at scrum half alongside Dan Parks, the Magners League’s top points scorer this season (164 points).
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Bernardo Stortoni; Colin Shaw, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, DTH van der Merwe; Dan Parks, Mark McMillan; Kevin Tkachuk, Fergus Thomson, Moray Low, Tim Barker, Alastair Kellock (capt), Kelly Brown, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements: Fergus Thomson, Ed Kalman, Dan Turner, Calum Forrester, Chris Cusiter, Ruaridh Jackson, Hefin O’Hare.
ULSTER: Simon Danielli; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Ian Whitten, Nevin Spence; Ian Humphreys, Paul Marshall; Tom Court, Andi Kyriacou, Declan Fitzpatrick, Ed O’Donoghue, Ryan Caldwell, Stephen Ferris, Chris Henry (capt), Robbie Diack.
Replacements: Nigel Brady, BJ Botha, Dan Tuohy, David Pollock, Isaac Boss, Niall O’Connor, Jamie Smith.
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Andy Macpherson, Ronnie Duma (both Scotland)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Glasgow Warriors to win: 1/4; Draw: 22/1; Ulster to win: 11/4
Pre-Match Quotes: Brian McLaughlin (Ulster) – “We travelled to Glasgow by boat yesterday (Thursday), as the airports were closed and we had our Captain’s Run at lunchtime.
“We had a good review of Tuesday night’s game against the Ospreys and we’ve got to look at our defence, we’re still suffering from inconsistency around our defence.
“For Andrew Trimble’s try, our defence was magnificent and for Simon Danielli’s try that also came from a defensive turnover, so we have to be more consistent in defence.
“Our set piece on Tuesday night was a lot more solid, we just have to stop giving away soft tries, Shane Williams’ try was a prime example and we gifted James Hook two tries under the posts so we must improve in this aspect of our play.
“Glasgow are another quality side and we’re expecting a very tough game. It’s been a quick turnaround for us, physically we’re in good shape so now we just have to get the boys mentally right for this very important game.”
Sean Lineen (Glasgow Warriors) – “John (Barclay) gave his absolute all against Munster where he was absolutely outstanding.
“I haven’t seen a performance like that from a number 7 in a long time. However, we need the back row to step up as a group and the front five have a huge job to do in order to give us the platform for success.
“Every game is a knockout game so this Friday is massive for us. We know if we don’t win, we’re out (of the play-offs) and the players know that.
“The players want it, you can see that but there’s words and there’s action and we need to get the action right. There’s a real opportunity here and it’s one we just don’t want to give up.
“Ulster have won on three of their last four visits to Firhill and they always get a good following here in Glasgow.
“But our support has been fantastic all season and I’ve no doubt that the Glasgow fans will make the most noise and really get behind the players.”
Top Scorers – 2009/10 Magners League: Glasgow Warriors – Points: Dan Parks 164; Tries: Thom Evans 4; Ulster – Points: Ian Humphreys 100; Tries: Simon Danielli 6
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, April 27, 2007 – Ulster 10 Glasgow Warriors 24, Ravenhill
Friday, November 2, 2007 – Glasgow Warriors 25 Ulster 6, Firhill Stadium
Saturday, May 3, 2008 – Ulster 24 Glasgow Warriors 35, Ravenhill
Saturday, March 7, 2008 – Ulster 12 Glasgow Warriors 0, Ravenhill
Friday, April 17, 2009 – Glasgow Warriors 19 Ulster 20, Firhill Stadium
Friday, December 4, 2009 – Ulster 13 Glasgow Warriors 25, Ravenhill
– Glasgow Warriors’ five-match winless run came to a halt at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons last time out
– Glasgow’s only defeat in their last six encounters at Firhill Stadium was a 30-7 loss to the Cardiff Blues in the Magners League on February 19
– Ulster, who lost 38-27 to the Ospreys last Tuesday, have won just one of their last seven away matches in all competitions, a 28-10 triumph at Bath in the Heineken Cup on January 23
– The Warriors beat Ulster 25-13 at Ravenhill in round eight of the league, but Ulster have won on three of their last four visits to Glasgow