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Heineken Cup Preview: Glasgow Warriors v Ulster

Heineken Cup Preview: Glasgow Warriors v Ulster

After securing a dramatic late bonus point against Castres Olympique, the Ulstermen will be hoping to give their Heineken Cup bid a further boost by beating Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium.

HEINEKEN CUP POOL 4: Friday, October 19

GLASGOW WARRIORS (3rd) v ULSTER (1st), Scotstoun Stadium, 8pm (live Sky Sports 2/HD2/BBC Radio Ulster MW/RTÉ Radio 1 Extra)

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Team News: Nick Williams and Ruan Pienaar have been named in Ulster’s starting line-up for Friday’s Heineken Cup Pool 4 match against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium.

Stephen Ferris has failed to recover from a back injury so Ireland Under-20 starlet Iain Henderson retains his place at blindside flanker, as Mark Anscombe made just two changes to the team.

Williams has recovered from a rib injury picked up in the RaboDirect PRO12 win over Connacht a fortnight ago and will start the game at number 8 in place of Mike McComish who is named on the bench.

Pienaar showed his class in scoring the vital bonus point try as a replacement against Castres Olympique and will start at scrum half this time.

Paul Marshall, who had ably deputised for the Springbok in recent weeks, scored two tries in a man-of-the-match display against the French side, highlighting Ulster’s strength in depth in the position.

Indeed, Anscombe admitted it was a tough decision regarding who should wear the number 9 jersey on Friday night.

“Paul played outstandingly well last week and he showed what he is capable of with a man-of-the-match performance,” he said.

“But we’re in the position where we have two fantastic options at scrum half. Ruan came on and showed what a quality player he is with his distribution and the try and the end.

“We have to select the team to win specific games and that’s what we’ve done for this weekend. Rugby is an 80-minute game and it’s important to have someone like Paul, who can come on and make an impact.”

The Ulster boss is also pleased to have back rower Williams available again, adding: “Nick has trained all week and has proved that he is 100% fit. He’s looked sharp and it is good to have him back in the team.”

Anscombe’s reign at Ulster has been characterised by squad rotation but there has been a more settled look about the team in recent weeks.

He commented: “We’re getting more and more players back from injury and it is allowing us to get close to a full strength team. We now just have a couple of players missing, so it’s looking quite promising.”

Glasgow have beaten the Ulstermen in just one of their last five encounters, but the New Zealander is not taking anything for granted.

“Glasgow are a formidable team, particularly at home. We have to play for the full 80 minutes against them if we are to come away with the win. We can’t afford to put in a performance for 50 or 60 minutes like we have done in previous weeks.”

Meanwhile, former Ulster winger Tommy Seymour will miss the match for Glasgow Warriors after being given a one-week suspension for a ‘tip tackle’ against Northampton Saints in the first round.

With Seymour unavailable, Byron McGuigan comes onto the right wing for his Heineken Cup debut.

Elsewhere in the back-line, Peter Murchie will start at outside centre with Sean Lamont sidelined by the facial injury he suffered at Northampton. Alex Dunbar will line up on the left wing.

There are two changes up front, Tom Ryder getting the nod over Tim Swinson in the second row and Chris Fusaro coming in for John Barclay at openside flanker.

Rob Harley, who has been missing since the start of September with a knee injury, is fit enough to take his place on the Warriors’ replacements bench.

GLASGOW WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg; Byron McGuigan, Peter Murchie, Peter Horne, Alex Dunbar; Ruaridh Jackson, Henry Pyrgos; Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall, Mike Cusack, Tom Ryder, Al Kellock (capt), Josh Strauss, Chris Fusaro, Ryan Wilson.

Replacements: Finlay Gillies, Ofa Fainga’anuku, Gordon Reid, Tim Swinson, Rob Harley, John Barclay, Scott Wight, Niko Matawalu.

ULSTER: Jared Payne; Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Tom Court, Rory Best, John Afoa, Johann Muller (capt), Dan Tuohy, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Adam Macklin, Lewis Stevenson, Mike McComish, Paul Marshall, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Christophe Berdos, Jean-Luc Rebollal (both France)
Television Match Official: Vincent Azoulay (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Glasgow Warriors to win: 15/8; Draw: 20/1; Ulster to win: 4/9

Pre-Match Quotes: Tom Court (Ulster) – “We were happy to get the bonus point try against Castres and take five points out of it. From our standards and from the way we have been playing this season it is not good enough and we definitely want to play better than that.

“The lapse in concentration and consistency in the second half is something we definitely have to work on. We are creating a lot of opportunities and there are boys putting their hands up but it is a matter of consistency now and we can’t afford a lapse in the second half.

“I think part of the problem last week was the boys were cruising in the first half and at the start of the second half probably became a bit too comfortable.

“Castres upped the intensity and the speed of the game by bringing a few guys off the bench and we struggled to up it and match them.

“Glasgow showed last week they can throw it down to anybody, I think if we give them a 15-point start they won’t make the same mistake so it’s a big challenge for us.

“I was personally disappointed last week with the penalties and the sin-binning, it was probably more a lack of concentration than anything malicious and when things like that happen it is very disappointing.

“I think across the squad everyone is under pressure and there aren’t too many boys that can sit there and play rubbish week to week and still get picked.”

Gregor Townsend (Glasgow Warriors) – “We were pleased with how we performed in the first 30 minutes at Northampton, but are well aware that against the calibre of opponents we play in this competition, we need to be at the top of our game for the full 80.

“Our 18-10 defeat to Ulster on the first night of the RaboDirect PRO12 season was quite similar to the Northampton game, in that we did a lot of things very well but didn’t quite sustain it over the piece.

“As their results show, Ulster have improved since then but we have as well. We go into the game with confidence, pushing to secure the win for what’s shaping up to be a big home crowd.

“Our selected team is strong and more than capable of delivering the right result. With a number of injuries in the backs, we’ve had to do some rejigging.

“But both Alex Dunbar and Peter Murchie have plenty of experience in the positions they’ll be playing and, like the rest of the team, have gone really well in training this week.”

Current Form – Glasgow Warriors – (RaboDirect PRO12): Lost 18-10 at home to Ulster; Lost 18-13 at home to the Scarlets; Won 28-10 away to the Ospreys; Won 27-17 at home to Connacht; Won 22-19 at home to Zebre; Won 18-3 away to the Cardiff Blues; (Heineken Cup): Lost 24-15 away to Northampton Saints

Ulster – (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 18-10 at home to Glasgow Warriors; Won 16-13 away to the Ospreys; Won 20-19 at home to Munster; Won 48-19 away to the Cardiff Blues; Won 25-0 at home to Connacht; (Heineken Cup): Won 41-17 at home to Castres Olympique

Previous European Meetings: 2

Monday, September 8, 1997 – Pool B – Ulster 12 Glasgow 18, Ravenhill
Sunday, October 12, 1997 – Pool B – Glasgow 30 Ulster 15, Scotstoun Stadium

Match Facts And Figures –

– This is the first Heineken Cup tie to be played at Scotstoun Stadium since Ulster visited the ground to play Glasgow & District on October 12, 1997

– The Warriors’ record against Irish opponents in the Heineken Cup is won one, lost five, with the only victory being 29-17 over Leinster at Hughenden in November 1999

– Ulster’s solitary defeat in their last five Heineken Cup games against Scottish opponents (all five have been against Edinburgh) was a 17-13 loss at Murrayfield in October 2009

– Ulster’s record in Scotland in the Heineken Cup is won 2, lost 2

– Glasgow have beaten the Ulstermen in just one in their last five encounters, taking a 17-9 verdict at Firhill in the RaboDirect PRO12 in November last year

Heineken Cup Records:

Glasgow Warriors –
2011/12: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2010/11: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2009/10: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2008/09: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2002/03: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool D
1997/98: Reached the quarter-final play-offs

Ulster –
2011/12: Runners-up
2010/11: Reached the quarter-finals
2009/10: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2008/09: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2002/03: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
1998/99: Champions
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool B
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool C
1995/96: Failed to qualify from Pool B