Preview: Ulster v Edinburgh

Date published: December 3 2015

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Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has named his squad to take on Edinburgh at Kingspan Stadium on Friday, with Luke Marshall in at centre.

Marshall is given an opportunity in midfield beside Darren Cave, with Rory Scholes due to start in a back three that also features Andrew Trimble and Peter Nelson.

Rob Herring, who signed a two-year contract extension earlier this week, will replace Rory Best as hooker and captain for the important Guinness PRO12 clash, as Kiss continues to manage his playing resources.

The 25-year-old is joined in the front-row by Ricky Lutton, who will make his first start of the campaign, and Kyle McCall.

Franco van der Merwe and Roger Wilson return to the side at lock and number eight respectively, while Ireland internationals Dan Tuohy, Chris Henry and Iain Henderson make up the rest of the pack.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons has made four changes to his starting XV that will run out in Belfast.

Greig Tonks, who tweaked his hamstring in the early stages of last weekend's bonus-point win, is replaced at full-back by Jack Cuthbert with Dougie Fife returning from injury to pull on the 14 jersey worn by one of last week's four try scorers, Tom Brown, who is out with a shoulder injury.

Chris Dean and Matt Scott maintain their partnership at centre with Will Helu retaining his place on the left wing. Meanwhile in half-backs, fly-half Phil Burleigh is paired with scrum-half Sean Kennedy as Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is out with a hand injury.

Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel again make up the front-row with Anton Bresler returning to partner Alex Toolis in the second-row, with Fraser McKenzie sidelined with a neck injury. Mike Coman again leads the team at blindside with John Hardie at openside and Cornell Du Preez completing the back-row.

"Last Friday's bonus-point win over Dragons was important for us and we must build on that momentum, going into tomorrow's match," said Solomons.

"Ulster at the Kingspan in front of a home crowd will be a tough ask, without a doubt, and we have to make sure that we are at our best. This will be a real test for the team, and especially for our strength in depth, bearing in mind our heavy injury toll."

He added: "We have the benefit of a relatively unchanged line-up going into this match, and welcome back Anton Bresler and Dougie Fife from injury, to add stability to the second row and backs respectively. With Fraser McKenzie out, Anton's return is particularly timely.

"Though we've beaten Ulster twice this season – at home in the PRO12 and in our pre-season friendly – we know we have to be absolutely at the top of our game on Friday."

Form: Ulster's only defeat in the Guinness PRO12 at Kingspan Stadium since September 2013 came when Leinster were the visitors in May 2014, since then the Ulstermen are unbeaten at home in the tournament in 14 matches. The Ulstermen have lost their last three matches against Scottish opponents. Edinburgh Rugby climbed to sixth in the table courtesy of their maximum point victory over Dragons at BT Murrayfield on Friday – their first bonus point win since beating Zebre in April. The Scotsmen have won just once on their travels in the Guinness PRO12 this season: 27-24 at Treviso in round 2. The two sides have already met this season with Edinburgh victorious at BT Murrayfield in round 4, and are attempting to achieve a season's double over the Ulstermen for the first time since 2007/08, although Edinburgh have not won in Belfast since September 2009.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Rory Scholes, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Kyle McCall.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Wiahan Herbst, 19 Alan O'Connor, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Stuart McCloskey, 23 Louis Ludik.

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Will Helu, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 John Hardie, 6 Mike Coman (c), 5 Alex Toolis, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 John Andress, 19 Jamie Ritchie, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Blair Kinghorn.

Date: Friday, December 4
Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Kieran Barry (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Television match official: Alan Rogan (Ireland)
Assessor: Andy Clift (Scotland)

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