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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Ulster v Scarlets

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Ulster v Scarlets

With most of their Rugby World Cup players back in tow, Ulster face into a crucial clash with the Scarlets. Brian McLaughlin’s men are gunning for their first win in four RaboDirect PRO12 games.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, October 29

SCARLETS (9th) v ULSTER (8th), Parc y Scarlets, 3pm

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Team News: Six of Ulster’s Rugby World Cup players have gone straight into the starting line-up to face Scarlets in the RaboDirect PRO12 at the Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

Head coach Brian McLaughlin has made a total of seven personnel changes and two positional switches. Johann Muller returns to captain the side from the second row where he resumes his partnership with Dan Tuohy.

Ireland prop Tom Court will join Andi Kyriacou and Declan Fitzpatrick in the front row. The back row remains unchanged from the last match against Benetton Treviso, with Pedrie Wannenburg and Mike McComish on the flanks and Chris Henry stationed at number 8.

Paul Marshall makes way for returning Springbok Ruan Pienaar at scrum half, with Ian Humphreys starting in the number 10 jersey and Paddy Wallace and Nevin Spence occupying the centre positions.

Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy have been named on the wings and Scotland international Simon Danielli returns from World Cup duty at full-back.

Rory Best and Stephen Ferris are being rested after Ireland’s World Cup campaign, while Jared Payne (Achilles), Luke Marshall (jaw) and Jerry Cronin (neck) are currently sidelined by injuries.

Meanwhile, the Scarlets welcome back three of Wales’ World Cup squad to their ranks this weekend, with international hooker Ken Owens getting a start and scrum half Tavis Knoyle and centre Scott Williams on the bench.

After strong performances in their last two fixtures against Leicester Tigers and the Cardiff Blues to secure two convincing bonus point wins, new Scarlets backs Adam Warren, Aled Thomas, Liam Williams and Rhodri Williams all keep their starting places.

Andy Fenby, who has recovered from a groin injury, returns on the left wing, Scotland international Sean Lamont takes a centre spot again with Daniel Evans retained at full-back after showing a return to form against the Blues last time out.

SCARLETS: Daniel Evans; Liam Williams, Sean Lamont, Adam Warren, Andy Fenby; Aled Thomas, Rhodri Williams; Rhodri Jones, Ken Owens, Rhys Thomas, Dominic Day, Damian Welch, Rob McCusker (capt), Johnathan Edwards, Ben Morgan.

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Phil John, Simon Gardiner, Aaron Shingler, Richie Pugh, Tavis Knoyle, Daniel Newton, Scott Williams.

ULSTER: Simon Danielli; Andrew Trimble, Nevin Spence, Paddy Wallace, Craig Gilroy; Ian Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar; Tom Court, Andi Kyriacou, Declan Fitzpatrick, Johann Muller (capt), Dan Tuohy, Pedrie Wannenburg, Mike McComish, Chris Henry.

Replacements: Nigel Brady, Paddy McAllister, Adam Macklin, Lewis Stevenson, Robbie Diack, Paul Marshall, Darren Cave, Adam D’Arcy.

Referee: Alan Falzone (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Gwyn Morris, Rhys Thomas (both Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Scarlets to win: 13/10; Draw: 20/1; Ulster to win: 8/13

Pre-Match Quotes: Brian McLaughlin (Ulster) – “We’ve had a very positive week with Johann at the helm as captain and we’re looking to put in a positive performance on Saturday.

“With Johann, Andrew, Simon, Paddy, Tom and Ruan back in, we are starting to take a bit more shape. The guys who have played up until now have done a great job and they will get plenty of opportunities as the season progresses, with so many games on the horizon.

“We had to make a few tough decisions in terms of selection. Leaving Darren Cave out of the side was very difficult considering the form he was in.

“Paddy (Wallace) and Nevin (Spence) struck up a good relationship last season and it’s a tried and tested combination. We know with Darren on the bench, it will give us a bit of quality there and it gives us great options.

“We have a long run of games now and it’s important that we get off on the right foot against the Scarlets. We will be looking for a good performance as well as a good result.”

Nigel Davies (Scarlets) – “This is a big game for us and we know how close we run with Ulster both in performance and how closely we’ll compete in getting a top four spot.

“The results against them will have an important bearing later on the four positions in the league and we’re looking forward to Saturday’s game.

“The boys have put in a lot of hard work this week and we’re focused on putting right that last game out in Ravenhill at the end of last season, which was a bitterly disappointing outcome.

“It’s been very positive to see how eager the returning World Cup players have been to come back to the Scarlets group. To be able to feature players like Ken Owens, Tavis Knoyle and Scott Williams into our overall line-up this Saturday is a real boost.”

Top Scorers – 2011/12 RaboDirect PRO12: Scarlets – Points: Dan Newton 44; Tries: Rhys Thomas, Adam Warren 2 each; Ulster – Points: Ian Humphreys 32; Tries: Darren Cave 3


Friday, September 5, 2008 – Ulster 9 Scarlets 16, Ravenhill
Saturday, May 16, 2009 – Scarlets 43 Ulster 17, Parc y Scarlets
Friday, October 2, 2009 – Ulster 45 Scarlets 24, Ravenhill
Friday, March 5, 2010 – Scarlets 25 Ulster 8, Parc y Scarlets
Friday, February 18, 2011 – Scarlets 16 Ulster 18, Parc y Scarlets
Friday, April 1, 2011 – Ulster 20 Scarlets 18, Ravenhill


– The Scarlets have won their last three matches in all competitions, while their only loss in their last five games at Parc y Scarlets was a 15-10 defeat to Leinster in the RaboDirect PRO12 on September 24

– But the Scarlets are winless in their last ten encounters with Irish provinces

– Ulster have been stuck on 99 wins in the league since beating the Cardiff Blues in round 3 of this season’s competition

– The Ulstermen have lost their last two encounters with Welsh opponents. During the 2010/11 campaign, they achieved a season’s double over the Scarlets for the first time in league history