Preview: Glasgow v Ulster

Date published: May 15 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_rugby-al-kellock-glasgow-warriors_3264129

Al Kellock returns to the Glasgow Warriors side for the massive Pro12 match with Ulster at a sold-out Scotstoun Stadium.

The Warriors captain, who replaces the injured Tim Swinson in the second-row, could be making his final appearance at Scotstoun, following the announcement that he is to retire from rugby at the end of the season.

Second-placed Glasgow can still secure a home play-off, but Ulster are also playing for home advantage next weekend.

With an increased capacity of around 10,000 it will be the club's biggest home crowd for a regular season game and tickets for this match sold out in record time.

Following last week's defeat to the Ospreys, Sean Lamont returns from injury and replaces Niko Matawalu on the left wing, with the Fijian international moving to scrum-half in place of Henry Pyrgos.

The only other change to the backline sees Finn Russell come in for Duncan Weir at stand-off.

In the pack, Dougie Hall replaces Pat MacArthur at hooker and Rossouw de Klerk returns from injury to take the place of Jon Welsh at tight-head.

Kellock comes into the second-row to make his 156th appearance for the club. Josh Strauss moves to blindside flanker replacing Rob Harley, with Adam Ashe returning from injury at number eight

Mike Cusack also makes a return from injury for this game and the prop has been named among the replacements.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: "Ulster are a really strong side who have been playing excellent rugby and we know we'll face an extremely tough challenge at Scotstoun.

"We've had some titanic battles with Ulster over the last few seasons and they play with a lot of passion and competitiveness and they will fight hard for everything.

"With all the games being played simultaneously it will be an exciting afternoon of rugby and we're very motivated to improve on last week's performance against the Ospreys.

"Playing in front of around 10,000 supporters at home for only the second time in our history is sure to be a great experience for our players. We will be doing all we can to reward our supporters with a home semi-final the following week."

Meanwhile, Ulster head coach Neil Doak has made 12 changes to the side that drew with Munster.

With a total of six players having picked up injuries last weekend and with the province already guaranteed a play-off place, only Franco van der Merwe, Louis Ludik and Chris Henry are retained from the side that faced Munster, with Ireland Under 20s centre, Sam Arnold, picked for his first start for the province.

Doak has selected a strong bench for the game with internationals Rory Best, Tommy Bowe, Ruan Pienaar, Paddy Jackson, Roger Wilson and Iain Henderson all named among the replacements.

Andrew Warwick is selected at loosehead and starts his first game since January, with Rob Herring playing his 70th game for Ulster at hooker. Emerging Ireland player, Ricky Lutton, starts his first game of the season at tighthead having recovered from the injuries that have restricted his involvement in the campaign so far.

Lewis Stevenson, who recently captained the Ravens against Munster A, starts in the second row alongside Franco van der Merwe, who runs out in his 27th game of the campaign and completes his first regular season for Ulster having played in all but one of the province’s matches.

Robbie Diack, who won his 150th cap for Ulster last weekend, starts at number eight, with Clive Ross named at blindside and Chris Henry captaining the side from openside.

Paul Marshall plays his 22nd game of the season and starts at scrumhalf, while Ian Humphreys, who is currently third in the Pro12 Golden Boot standings, is selected at fly-half.
 
Stuart McCloskey is picked at inside centre, with Sam Arnold, who won Hughes Insurance Academy Player of the Year, starting his first game for Ulster at outside centre.

Michael Allen, who will play for Edinburgh next season, is selected on the left wing, with Rory Scholes named on the right and Louis Ludik continuing at full-back.

Form: Glasgow Warriors have been in the top two of the Guinness PRO12 table since round 10 but are in danger of not qualifying for a home play-off if they do not win this game, and even then a bonus point may be needed. The Warriors lost out to Ospreys in Swansea in round 21 and have not lost successive Guinness PRO12 fixtures since rounds 15 and 16 last season. Warriors are the only side with a 100 per cent home winning record in the tournament this season and have not lost at Scotstoun in the PRO12 since Dragons were the visitors in November 2013. A victory in this game will ensure that Ulster will finish higher in the table than Glasgow but it may still not be enough to guarantee their Play-off game is held in Belfast. The Ulstermen have been defeated only once in the Guinness PRO12 since round 12: 22-26 at Dragons on 8th March. Ulster are going for a clean sweep of victories over Scottish opponents this season. The Ulstermen beat the Warriors 29-9 at Kingspan Stadium in round 6 but have not achieved a PRO12 season's double over the Scotsmen since 2010/11. Ulster's only previous victory at Scotstoun came in the European Cup in October 2012.

The teams:

Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Mike Cusack, 19 Leone Nakarawa, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Peter Murchie

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Rory Scholes, 13 Sam Arnold, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Chris Henry (c), 6 Clive Ross, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Louis Stevenson, 3 Ricky Lutton,  2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Warwick

Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Tommy Bowe

Date: Saturday, May 16
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 31st competition game)
Assistant Referees: Neil Paterson, Sam Grove-White (both SRU)
TMO: Jim Yuille (SRU)

COMMENTS