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Preview: Ulster v Ospreys

06th February 2014 11:27

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Ulster celebrate Darrenn Cave Jared Payne

Darren Cave: Starts at 12

Darren Cave will start at inside-centre for Ulster in the PRO12 clash against Ospreys at Ravenhill on Friday.

Cave played at 12 for the Irish Wolfhounds in the victory over England Saxons at Kingsholm last weekend.

He will be partnered in midfield by Jared Payne who switches from full-back to outside centre.

In the back three, Ricky Andrew starts at full-back, Craig Gilroy, who also represented the Wolfhounds, is selected on the left wing and Michael Allen returns to the starting XV on the right.

With Paddy Jackson on international duty, James McKinney is named at fly-half where he will start alongside Ruan Pienaar, who is selected at scrum-half.

In the pack, Tom Court joins Rob Herring, and John Afoa in the front row, Johann Muller partners Lewis Stevenson in the second row and Robbie Diack, Sean Doyle and Roger Wilson form the back row.

Iain Henderson and Luke Marshall have been released by Ireland and are named on the bench. Ireland U20s full-back, Rory Scholes, is also named as a substitute and is in line to make his league debut if called upon.

Meanwhile, Ospreys boss Steve Tandy has rung the changes to his side.

In the back-line, there are four changes to the side that beat Sale in the LV= Cup last weekend.

Sam Davies, who played at fly-half against Sale, takes over from Richard Fussell at full-back while Jeff Hassler and Ashley Beck replace Tom Grabham and Matthew Jenkins at right wing and inside centre respectively.

Matthew Morgan comes in for Davies at fly-half.

Amongs the forwards, there are five changes with Joe Bearman and Sam Lewis replacing Dan Baker and Lloyd Evans in the back-row.

The other changes sees Perry Parker making his first start at lock at Rhodri Hughes' expense while Aaron Jarvis and Duncan Jones are the starting props in place of Dan Suter and Nicky Smith.

Tandy expects a tough outing at Ravenhill.

"These next four weeks are massive for us in terms of how the rest of the season plays out, and beyond that, in regards to what we are trying to build here for the longer term, whatever the future holds for Ospreys Rugby," he said.

"The last couple of weeks in the LV= Cup have been a valuable experience for us in terms of getting some meaningful game time for some of the next generation of Ospreys, and there is a lot to be pleased about.

"The intent and the commitment has been good and that reflected in the way they kept going against Sale last week. We're trying to grow our attacking threat, and anyone who has watched the last two games will be excited about what the future holds for us.

"In the short term though, the focus is on Ulster this weekend then back-to-back games at the Liberty against Treviso and Munster.

"Some of the boys who have performed well over the last couple of games will get a chance to show what they can do while we have an experienced core to the group who will have to lead by example.

"Ravenhill is always a very difficult place to go and play, whatever time of the season you go there, but even more so during the international period.

"They have a strong core that is available to them throughout the season, with some world class overseas players, and that allows them to stay strong during this period.

"It's an example of what can be achieved by union and club working together for the good of the game, certainly.

"We know that it's going to be a challenge for us but we are up for it and looking forward to getting this period of games started."

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Ricky Andrew, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Darren Cave, 11 Michael Allen, 10 James McKinney, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Doyle, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Lewis Stevenson, 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Nick Williams, 21 P Marshall, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Rory Scholes.

Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Jonathan Spratt (c), 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Aisea Natoga, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 Perry Parker, 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Dan Suter, 19 Dan Baker, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Richard Fussell, 23 Eli Walker.

Date: Friday, February 7
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Dudley Phillips (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
Television match official: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)
Assessor: Jack Young (Ireland)

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