Preview: Ulster v Glasgow

Date published: February 11 2016

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Fly-half Gregor Hunter will make his first start for Glasgow Warriors when they take on Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday.

Hunter signed for the Warriors in the summer of 2014 and following an ACL injury, he recovered to go on and win the Melrose Sevens last year, as well as making his Warriors debut coming off the bench against Munster earlier this season.

Glasgow didn't have a game last week with the Six Nations beginning and the Warriors have five Scotland players in the squad for the game in Belfast.

Peter Murchie starts at full-back, while Rory Hughes starts on the left wing following his try against Ospreys. On the opposite wing is Lee Jones.

Glenn Bryce and Sam Johnson start at centre, with Johnson starting his fourth consecutive game. Gregor Hunter and Ali Price make up the half-back pairing.

In the front-row, Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur and Sila Puafisi will pack down.

Greg Peterson and Leone Nakarawa pair up in the second-row with number eight Ryan Wilson captaining the team for the second game in-a-row. Simone Favaro and Rob Harley are the named flankers.

Alex Allan, Josh Strauss, Chris Fusaro and Peter Horne have all returned from Scotland duty and are selected on the bench along with James Malcolm, D'arcy Rae, Grayson Hart and Taqele Naiyaravoro.

Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend said: "We're heading to the Kingspan Stadium expecting a tough match against one of the strongest teams in the league, who are currently top of the PRO12.

"We played well in Wales against Ospreys for around 60-65 minutes, but we'll need an 80 minute performance tomorrow night to come away with a positive result. I'm looking forward to seeing this group of players front up in what is a big game for the club.

"Gregor Hunter has worked really hard in training this season and has been playing regularly for Glasgow Hawks, so we're expecting him to play well in a Warriors shirt tomorrow night."

Meanwhile for Ulster, Callum Black will earn his 100th cap for the province.

The loosehead prop joined Ulster from Worcester in 2011 and has racked up 99 appearances to date, including 13 this season.

Sam Windsor will make his competitive debut for Ulster after being selected at outhalf by Director of Rugby, Les Kiss. The 28-year-old replaces Ian Humphreys, who suffered a concussion in the 17-15 win over Newport Gwent Dragons last weekend.

Stuart McCloskey and will start in midfield alongside Darren Cave, facilitating Stuart Olding's switch to full-back. Jacob Stockdale and Craig Gilroy will line out on the wings, with Ruan Pienaar continuing at scrumhalf.

The front row of Black, captain Rob Herring and Ricky Lutton remains unchanged from the Dragons encounter. Franco van der Merwe returns to the team after a well-earned rest last week; he will partner Alan O'Connor in the second row.

Robbie Diack, Sean Reidy and Nick Williams will form an explosive loose forward combination.

Chris Henry, who has not featured for Ulster since picking up a shoulder injury in December, has returned to the fray and has been included among the replacements.

John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Bronson Ross, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Paddy Jackson and Sammy Arnold are the other members of the matchday squad.

Form: Ulster hit the top of the PRO12 table following their victory in the rearranged round 12 game against Dragons on Friday – the first time they have led the league table since May 2013. The Ulstermen's only defeat in their last five PRO12 fixtures was 7-9 to Munster in Belfast on 2 January. Glasgow Warriors have won just one of their last six matches in all tournaments: 22-5 over Racing 92 in Kilmarnock on 23 January. Warriors only victory on the road in the PRO12 this season was 35-30 at Cardiff Blues on 7 November, they did however draw 20-all at Ospreys in Round 13. Ulster have won just one of their last six contests with Glasgow: 29-9 at Kingspan Stadium in the PRO12 in October 2014. Glasgow return for the first time to the scene of their title triumph last year, beating Munster in the PRO12 final there in Belfast in May. 

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Stuart Olding, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Sam Windsor, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Alan O'Connor, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Chris Henry, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Sammy Arnold

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Glenn Bryce, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson (c), 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Leone Nakaraw,a 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 James Malcolm, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D'arcy Rae, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro

Date: Friday, February 12
Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT 
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

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