1st September 2011 19:28
Ulster are hoping to take their encouraging pre-season form into the RaboDirect PRO12 when the new campaign gets underway on Friday night. Standing in their way is a Glasgow Warriors side that contains two familiar faces in Tommy Seymour and Rob Dewey.
ULSTER v GLASGOW WARRIORS, Ravenhill, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/BBC ALBA)
Team News: Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin has named a strong side for the province’s opening RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Glasgow Warriors.
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Ian Whitten finds himself out of his regular centre position as he occupies the left wing berth for the first time. He is joined in the back-three by Adam D’Arcy and last season’s top try scorer, Craig Gilroy.
Chris Henry will captain the side from number 8 and is joined in the back row by the experienced Pedrie Wannenburg and Willie Faloon.
Lewis Stevenson will make his first competitive appearance for Ulster and will partner Dan Tuohy in the second row. Jerry Cronin, Paddy McAllister and Andi Kyriacou will combine in the province’s starting front row.
Academy duo Conor Carey and Peter Nelson, as well as development player Adam Macklin, have been named among the replacements and are in line for their first competitive appearances.
Nelson, in his first year out of school, has impressed in the pre-season friendly wins over Neath and Harlequins and will cover positions 11 to 15.
The 19-year-old Carey has been playing club rugby for Ballymena and put in a number of excellent performances for the Ulster Ravens in the British & Irish Cup last season.
Macklin also appeared for the Ravens but missed most of last season with an ankle injury. Nigel Brady, Neil McComb, Ian Porter and Paddy Jackson are the other players held in reserve.
Meanwhile, Glasgow Warriors head coach Sean Lineen has challenged his players to produce the intensity and consistency of execution required to register a first Scottish success in Ulster since the Warriors’ 25-13 win in December 2009.
Their selected starting line-up includes three debutants in former Connacht back Troy Nathan, tighthead prop Mike Cusack and winger Tommy Seymour, who will be back on familiar territory having signed from Ulster during the summer.
A further two players, Scottish Rugby Elite Development lock Nick Campbell and back rower Rory Pitman, who is currently on loan from Ospreys, are in line to make their first competitive appearances for Glasgow off the bench.
Tickets are still available for Friday’s game. Tickets can be bought online at www.ulsterrugby.com, by calling the Ticket Office on 02890493222 (option 2), or at the gate on match night.
ULSTER: Adam D’Arcy; Craig Gilroy, Darren Cave, Nevin Spence, Ian Whitten; Ian Humphreys, Paul Marshall; Paddy McAllister, Andi Kyriacou, Jerry Cronin, Lewis Stevenson, Dan Tuohy, Pedrie Wannenburg, Willie Faloon, Chris Henry (capt).
Replacements: Nigel Brady, Conor Carey, Adam Macklin, Neil McComb, Robbie Diack, Ian Porter, Paddy Jackson, Peter Nelson.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Rob Dewey, Troy Nathan, Colin Shaw; Duncan Weir, Colin Gregor; Jon Welsh, Pat MacArthur, Mike Cusack, Tom Ryder, Rob Harley (capt), James Eddie, Chris Fusaro, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Finlay Gillies, Ryan Grant, Ed Kalman, Nick Campbell, Rory Pitman, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Federico Aramburu.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Paul Haycock, John Carvill (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ulster to win: 1/7; Draw: 25/1; Glasgow Warriors to win: 4/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Brian McLaughlin (Ulster) – “Against Harlequins (last Friday) we set our stall out, we wanted to show our fans what they can expect from us at Ravenhill this season.
“The key thing is that we build on what we did last weekend. We’re very pleased with the tempo that we played at, we’re pleased with the way that we were trying to play.
“We’ve got to make sure we cross the whitewash this Friday night and do exactly the same, only better. It’s a matter now of proving we can do it in the heat of battle and in the heat of the competition.
“To have nine players away representing their country (at the Rugby World Cup) is outstanding for us and we’re very pleased. From our point of view it’s exciting and challenging.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge. We’re looking forward to seeing how our youth perform at this level. It’s vital for them and it’s vital for our future.
“For them it is a great opportunity, it’s a great challenge for us and it’s one that we really want to get our teeth into.
“I hope that we will be up there in and around the top three or four, that’s one of our aims. But we’ll have to wait and see how all the teams react over the next six or seven weeks, how they progress or regress in relation to having players away.
“The final placings in the league will not be decided in the next six or seven weeks but I think you’ll get a fair handle on just what other sides have in their squads.”
Sean Lineen (Glasgow Warriors) – “This is a great opportunity for the guys to go to a fantastic rugby arena like Ravenhill and show what it means to pull on the Warriors jersey and perform for our supporters.
“We were hugely disappointed to come away empty-handed from both Ulster games last season, because on each occasion we felt we competed well and put ourselves in a position to win.
“The fact that Ulster just pulled clear both times is a reminder of the quality they have in their squad, and also the fact that you’ve got to be right on top of your game for 80 minutes to bring home the right result.
“That’s what we’re looking for on Friday night – a passionate, calculated performance that gives us the opportunity to win.
“I’ve been very impressed by how our new signings have made themselves at home and also made themselves heard.
“I’m really looking forward to them delivering in a game context, and they’ll be helped to do that by a core of guys like Rob Dewey, Colin Shaw, Colin Gregor and James Eddie who know what being a Glasgow player is all about.
“Rob Harley will captain the team again. I was very happy with how he took to the role last week. He’s a guy who will lead from the front and take others with him.”
Pre-Match Multimedia Links –
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Saturday, March 7, 2009 – 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
Friday, April 16, 2010 – Glasgow Warriors 25 Ulster 18, Firhill Stadium
Friday, October 1, 2010 – Ulster 19 Glasgow Warriors 17, Ravenhill
Friday, March 25, 2011 – Glasgow Warriors 19 Ulster 22, Firhill Stadium
– Ulster have won their last six matches at Ravenhill in the competition. The last Scottish side to lower Ulster’s colours at their famous Belfast home was this week’s opposition, Glasgow Warriors, in December 2009
– Glasgow Warriors have been victorious in round one for the past three seasons, but finished their last campaign with three successive defeats
– The Warriors recorded just one away victory last season. They beat Italian newcomers Aironi Rugby 17-16 in Viadana
– Ulster achieved a season’s double over Glasgow during the 2010/11 league campaign