Preview: Ulster v Bordeaux-Bègles

Date published: January 20 2017

Les Kiss has named his matchday squad for Ulster's concluding Champions Cup pool game, against Bordeaux-Bègles.

Ulster's chances of progression to the knock-out stages are all but gone following a 31-19 defeat at the hands of Exeter Chiefs on Sunday and there are six personnel changes to the starting XV that lost at Sandy Park.

Four of the changes come in the tight five as the front row injury crisis continues, with academy props Ross Kane and Tommy O'Hagan adding their names to the lengthy injury list.

Jonny Simpson will make his first start for the province at tighthead prop, having earned three previous caps as a replacement. Andy Warwick will join Simpson in the front row and they will pack down alongside Ireland skipper Rory Best.

Elsewhere in the pack, Robbie Diack and Franco van der Merwe will start together in the second row for the first time, while the loose forward trio of Iain Henderson, Chris Henry and Sean Reidy is retained.

Dave Shanahan and Paddy Jackson are named as half back partners for the second consecutive week. Darren Cave, hugely impressive in Ulster A's 38-21 win over London Scottish last Friday, is installed in the Ulster midfield alongside Stuart McCloskey.

Tommy Bowe returns to the starting line-up on the right wing, with Andrew Trimble selected on the left and Charles Piutau reverting to full-back.

Ricky Lutton is set to make his first appearance of the season after recovering from a series of injuries. He will provide forward cover along with John Andrew, Callum Black, Kieran Treadwell and Clive Ross. Paul Marshall, Brett Herron and Craig Gilroy are also included in the matchday 23 for Saturday's game.

Meanwhile, UBB make eight changes to their starting XV with Geoffrey Cros starting at full-back.

A backline reshuffle means that Jean-Baptiste Dubié moves from wing to outside centre, with Blair Connor filling the space out wide.

Ian Madigan gets a new half-back partner with Yann Lesgourgues getting the start, while in the back Loaa Goujon wears seven and switches flanks to allow for the return of Louis Madaule.

In the second row Berend Botha gets a start, partnering former England lock, Tom Palmer. UBB boss Raphaël Ibanez has also opted for an entirely new front row, as Marc Clerc, Clément Maynadier and Steven Kitshoff all start.

Form: Both teams aren't having a great run of form. Ulster squeezed a win past Clermont 39-32, before losing two games in a row. Clermont got their revenge a week later with a 38-19 win over Ulster and then the Irish club lost to the Exeter Chiefs 31-19. Bordeaux claimed a win over English rivals the Chiefs when they won 13-7. But it was all downhill from there after losing to the Chiefs 20-12 and then to Clermont 9-6.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Andrew Trimble (c), 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Dave Shanahan, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Robbie Diack, 3 Jonny Simpson, 2 Rory Best, 1 Andrew Warwick
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Craig Gilroy

Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Geoffrey Cros, 14 Nans Ducuing, 13 Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 12 Joe Wakacegu, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Loann Goujon, 6 Louis Madaule, 5 Berend Botha, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Clément Maynadier, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Benat Auzqui, 17 Sébastien Taofifenua, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Joe Edwards, 20 Hugh Chalmers, 21 Julien Audy, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Julien Rey

Date: Saturday, January 21
Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Gareth Copsey (England)
TMO: Geoff Warren (England)

COMMENTS