Third against first and Kingspan Stadium is sure to be rocking as Ulster try to end leaders Glasgow’s winning run this season in the province’s second successive home game against Scottish opponents.
GUINNESS PRO12: Saturday, October 11
ULSTER (3rd) v GLASGOW WARRIORS (1st), Kingspan Stadium, 5.05pm (live Sky Sports 4 HD/BBC Radio Ulster)
Team News: Ulster head coach Neil Doak has made three changes to the side that beat Edinburgh last weekend for the visit of GUINNESS PRO12 table toppers Glasgow Warriors to Kingspan Stadium.
With Paddy Jackson sidelined, Ian Humphreys is named at out-half and will make his 88th appearance for his home province. Following an assessment on Monday morning and having presented with concussive type symptoms, Jackson was ruled out of the round 6 clash with Glasgow.
The rest of the Ulster back-line is unchanged, with Louis Ludik at full-back, Andrew Trimble on the right wing and Tommy Bowe on the left.
Stuart McCloskey (pictured below) – the man-of-the-match against Edinburgh – continues at inside centre alongside Jared Payne and Paul Marshall partners Humphreys at half-back.
There are two changes in the pack. Andrew Warwick is selected at loosehead in place of Ruaidhri Murphy and captain Rory Best has Wiehahn Herbst alongside him at tighthead prop.
Alan O’Connor, who impressed on his first start for Ulster last weekend, keeps his place in the second row alongside South African Franco van der Merwe.
In the back row, Ireland internationals Chris Henry and Robbie Diack start either side of Nick Williams who takes on the number 8 role in place of Roger Wilson.
Wilson is named as a replacement along with fellow forwards Rob Herring, Callum Black, Bronson Ross and Lewis Stevenson. Backs Michael Heaney, Stuart Olding and Craig Gilroy complete the matchday squad.
Luke Marshall is unavailable as he has a slight groin strain. He will be assessed on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
More than 15,500 tickets have been sold for the match and the crowd is already the biggest of the season at Kingspan Stadium so far. The Hughes Insurance Family Stand, the Grandstand, the Memorial End Stand and the East Terrace are now completely sold out.
There is limited availability in the West, Family and Memorial End Terraces. To purchase a ticket for the Ulster v Glasgow match, please click here.
Tickets will be available on the gate from 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon, however these will be restricted to one terrace only, therefore buying online ahead of the game is recommended.
The fixture is Ulster Rugby’s annual match for charity. Tomorrow evening, fans are encouraged to wear ‘wacky socks and shoes’ as part of Mencap’s Big Step Forward appeal.
The charity is raising funds to build, equip and run its new children and families centre in Newtownbreda. Bucket collectors will be in the ground and fans can also donate £3 by texting MENCAP to 70660.
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors will be shown live on Sky Sports 4 with coverage starting at 5pm. The game will also be available on BBC Radio Ulster and online via the BBC Sport website.
Meanwhile, Scotland international Sean Maitland will make his first appearance of the season for Glasgow Warriors when he starts on the right wing against Ulster.
Maitland’s return to the starting line-up sees ex-Ulster back Tommy Seymour move to the opposite wing after his two-try haul against Benetton Treviso.
Peter Murchie replaces Stuart Hogg at full-back to make his first start since the win over Cardiff Blues last month, while Mark Bennett comes in for Sean Lamont at outside centre and Peter Horne continues in the number 12 jersey.
In a new half-back pairing Finn Russell takes over from Duncan Weir at out-half and Henry Pyrgos replaces Niko Matawalu at scrum half.
Gordon Reid and Euan Murray have been selected in the front row in place of Alex Allan and Rossouw de Klerk, while Fraser Brown takes over the hooker duties from Pat MacArthur.
It is a new second-row partnership, with Tim Swinson and Leone Nakarawa coming in for Tom Ryder and Al Kellock. Rob Harley and Chris Fusaro also return in the back row and Josh Strauss will captain the Warriors from number 8.
Dougie Hall could make his first appearance of the season from the bench, having recovered from an arm injury which has ruled him out of action since last season’s PRO12 final.
In addition, Jonny Gray and Adam Ashe both return from injury and are among the replacements, while 18-year-old Zander Fagerson has once again been named on the bench after making his Warriors debut in last weekend’s 40-23 bonus point win over Treviso.
ULSTER: Louis Ludik; Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Stuart McCloskey, Tommy Bowe; Ian Humphreys, Paul Marshall; Andrew Warwick, Rory Best (capt), Wiehahn Herbst, Alan O’Connor, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Nick Williams.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Bronson Ross, Lewis Stevenson, Roger Wilson, Michael Heaney, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Peter Murchie; Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos; Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Euan Murray, Tim Swinson, Leone Nakarawa, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Josh Strauss (capt).
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Zander Fagerson, Jonny Gray, Adam Ashe, Niko Matawalu, James Downey, Sean Lamont.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Correll, Paul Haycock (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ulster to win: 4/9; Draw: 20/1; Glasgow Warriors to win: 7/4
Pre-Match Quotes: Roger Wilson (Ulster) – “I have been involved in every game this year, but I have played only one 80 minutes so far (away to Zebre) because I’m 33 now and as I’m the oldest guy in the squad they are trying not to flog me too much!
“I think this is my 13th season and it flies by and to think a few years ago we were the younger ones. Maturity wise, in the dressing room, I don’t think you grow up too much from when you were 18 or 19-years-old.
“We are still like a bunch of kids, but whenever you get onto the pitch that’s when you now have to show leadership and help the younger boys like Alan O’Connor.
“No disrespect (to our opponents so far) but this will be the first big test against supposedly the best team in the league on current form.
“We have talked about having to step things up and there has been that extra edge in training and we know that, without looking too far ahead, the next three games are going to be crucial.
“We definitely owe Glasgow one especially after the home game last year (a 13-12 defeat) as we felt that was one that got away from us.”
Gregor Townsend (Glasgow Warriors) – “Our recent games with Ulster have been very competitive and tomorrow will be another tough test for us.
“They had a good win last weekend (against Edinburgh) and will be coming into the game with confidence. We have huge respect for our opponents and we’re looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd at Kingspan Stadium.
“We’re expecting a high intensity match and both teams will be looking to go into their respective European campaigns off the back of a good performance on Saturday night.”
Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Ulster – Points: Ian Humphreys 33; Tries: Andrew Trimble 4; Glasgow Warriors – Points: Duncan Weir 40; Tries: Tommy Seymour 3
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, September 2, 2011 – Ulster 28 Glasgow Warriors 14, Ravenhill
Friday, November 25, 2011 – Glasgow Warriors 17 Ulster 9, Firhill Stadium
Friday, August 31, 2012 – Ulster 18 Glasgow Warriors 10, Ravenhill
Friday, February 22, 2013 – Glasgow Warriors 20 Ulster 14, Scotstoun Stadium
Friday, September 13, 2013 – Ulster 12 Glasgow Warriors 13, Ravenhill
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Glasgow Warriors 27 Ulster 9, Scotstoun Stadium
– Ulster’s single reversal in the GUINNESS PRO12 this season came in round 4 at Zebre, while their only loss in Belfast in the league since last September came at the hands of Leinster on May 2
– Glasgow Warriors rose to the top of the PRO12 table for the first time in exactly 12 months courtesy of their maximum point victory over Benetton Treviso last Sunday
– The Warriors have not been defeated in a regular season game in the PRO12 since they visited Leinster on March 1
– Glasgow have won their last three encounters with Ulster since the Ulstermen beat them 23-6 at Belfast in Europe in January 2013