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Preview: Ulster v Dragons

11th April 2013 12:21

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tommy bowe

Starting: Tommy Bowe

Ulster have named Irish international Tommy Bowe on the right wing for their RaboDirect PRO12 meeting with the Dragons at Ravenhill on Friday.

Head coach Mark Anscombe has made seven personnel and two positional changes, to the team that lost to Saracens in the Heineken Cup.

Bowe, who won his 100th cap for Ulster when he came off the bench against Saracens, starts his first game for the province since he injured knee ligaments against Northampton in December.

Peter Nelson is named at full-back instead of Jared Payne, who picked up a slight ankle knock at Twickenham. Stuart Olding replaces Luke Marshall who suffered concussion in the game.

Paddy Jackson is rested for the game, so Ruan Pienaar switches to fly-half, with Paul Marshall coming in at nine.

Tom Court remains at loosehead alongside Rory Best, who will captain the side. Ricky Lutton starts at tighthead.

With Johann Muller out for three weeks with a bicep injury, Iain Henderson is selected in the second-row alongside Dan Tuohy. Robbie Diack therefore comes in at blindside flanker.

Chris Henry is rested for the match, so Mike McComish is selected at openside with Nick Williams named at number eight.

Meanwhile, Dragons coach Darren Edwards has made the changes in the forward pack by including Sam Parry, who steps up from the bench against the Scarlets, Nathan Buck and open side flanker Darren Waters.

Waters has recently stunned onlookers with his brilliant ball carrying as he played in the premiership. The 28-year-old, has recently returned to the field after suffering with a knee injury for most part of the season.

"Darren has been hugely missed and the timing of his injury couldn't have been worse - there was a big opportunity for him after Gavin Thomas retired last season," said the head coach.

"While he was out we found Nic, and that means that we have got two great sevens going into next year.

"Darren has worked so hard to come back and stood out in the Premiership, now we have to create some competition."

The men of Gwent will keep the faith in their young centre pairing of Pat Leach and Jack Dixon; they stand alongside Dan Evans who impressed with a man of the match performance, at number ten in the Dragons last match against the Scarlets. Welsh international Andrew Coombs also retains his place as captain of the regional side.

As for the bench we see the welcome return from injury of Andy Tuilagi after he was out due to a hamstring injury. He sits alongside Hugh Gustafson, Nathan Williams and Adam Jones who have all been changed from the previous line up.

Form: Ulster's three game winless run in the RaboDirect PRO12 ended with their hard fought 22-18 victory over Leinster at the RDS on 30th March. Ulster's nine game winning run against Welsh regions at Ravenhill ended with their 12-16 defeat there to Ospreys on 8th February. Dragons have slipped to three successive PRO12 losses since their 14-13 victory over Zebre in Parma in Round 16. Dragons have been victorious only once in their last nine contests against Irish provinces. The Men from Gwent have beaten Ulster just once in their last half a dozen encounters: 22-9 at Rodney Parade in September 2011. The Dragons most recent victory at Ravenhill was in September 2008.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Mike McComish, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Ali Birch, 21 Niall O'Connor, 22 Mike Allen, 23 Adam D'Arcy.

Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ross Wardle, 10 Dan Evans, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Darren Waters, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Andrew Coombs (c), 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Aaron Coundley.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Nathan Williams, 18 Dan Way, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Jevon Groves, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Andy Tuilagi.

Date: Friday, April 12
Kick-off: 19:05 BST
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Paul Haycock (Ireland), Gary Conway (Ireland)
Television match official: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)

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