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Preview: Dragons v Ulster

05th May 2011 12:28

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SKY_MOBILE Robbie Diack

Robbie Diack: Promoted from the bench

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has named his starting XV to face the Dragons in their decisive Magners League clash on Friday.

Ulster require only a losing bonus point against the Dragons to ensure progression to the knock-out stages. However a win for the Ulstermen, coupled with a Leinster defeat against Glasgow, would secure a home semi-final spot.

All six final round Magners League games will kick off at same time so there are many permutations for the play-offs; only Munster are certain of a home semi-final on the weekend of 13/14th May.

Props Tom Court and Declan Fitzpatrick have returned to full fitness and will pack down alongside skipper Rory Best in the front row. Their return to action sees Paddy McAllister and Jerry Cronin named among the replacements.

Willie Faloon suffered a shoulder injury in training and is unavailable for selection so Robbie Diack is promoted from the bench to play number eight. As a result, Pedrie Wannenburg moves to blindside flanker and Chris Henry switches to the openside flank.

TJ Anderson, who will join Connacht in the summer, is given a position on the bench as back row cover.

The backline is unchanged from the win over Connacht at Ravenhill two weeks ago, with Darren Cave and Nevin Spence continuing their centre partnership.

Ireland internationals Stephen Ferris (knee), Paddy Wallace (thumb) and Andrew Trimble (thumb) remain unavailable for selection due to injury, as does BJ Botha (knee).

Meanwhile, following his sterling performance against the Blues last weekend, Dragons fly-half Steffan has been given the nod at full-back.

"I'm delighted to be playing again for the region," said Jones.

"It's just about being given an opportunity to prove yourself and obviously last week couldn't have gone much better for me.

In a largely unchanged side from the landmark victory against their local rivals, Pat Leach replaces centre Ashley Smith who is to be rested and Dan Way comes in for Ben Castle.

"Ashley could have made it this weekend," said Dragons coach Darren Edwards.

"But he has worked really hard all season and we wanted to look after him to make sure he's ready for next season. We also wanted to take to opportunity to further expose Dan Way to Magners League rugby."

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Stefan Jones, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Pat Leach, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Danny Lydiate, 5 Adam Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Dan Way, 2 Lloyd Burns, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Tom Willis, 17 Hugh Gustafson, 18 Ben Castle, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Joe Bearman, 21 Matthew Watkins, 22 Jon Evans, 23 Mathew Jones.

Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Nevin Spence, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Pedrie Wannenburg, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller, 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Jerry Cronin, 19 Tim Barker, 20 TJ Anderson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 C Gaston.

Date: Friday, 6 May
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19:05 (18:05 GMT)
Referee: Alan Lewis
Assistant Referees: Tim Hayes, Sean Bricknell

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