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Preview: Ulster v Leicester

10th October 2013 12:31

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SKY_MOBILE Tommy Bowe Ulster

Tommy Bowe: At 11 for Ulster

Ulster boss Mark Anscombe has made three changes to his starting XV for Friday's Heineken Cup opener with Leicester Tigers at Ravenhill.

Ireland flyer Tommy Bowe has recovered from the dead-leg that he sustained in the bonus-point win over Treviso a fortnight ago and will start on the wing.

Jared Payne switches to full-back in place of Craig Gilroy, who has failed to recover from the ankle injury that he sustained against Ospreys, with Darren Cave at outside centre.

In the only change up front, Roger Wilson starts at blindside, with Robbie Diack moving to the bench.

Ruan Pienaar, who signed a new three-year contract extension with the province this week, is also named among the replacements.

John Afoa was unavailable for selection but is recovering well from injury.

Meanwhile, Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill has also made three changes to his run-on side with Miles Benjamin called in on the wing, Dan Bowden at centre and Geoff Parling resuming his place in the second-row.

Benjamin makes his Tigers debut after a successful return from injury and starts in place of Blaine Scully who took a heavy knock in the match against Northampton Saints last weekend.

Bowden replaces Anthony Allen who has an ankle injury and Parling has recovered from injury to join Louis Deacon at lock with Graham Kitchener among the replacements.

Former Waratahs centre Terrence Hepetema receives a first call-up to the matchday squad and is named among the replacements.

Allen and Scully join Manu Tuilagi, Matt Smith, Tom Croft, Steve Mafi, Mathew Tait, Rob Hawkins, Ryan Lamb and Scott Hamilton on the sidelines this week, while Marcos Ayerza is still in Argentina.

This clash between these two former Heineken Cup champions is the marquee match-up of the opening round. Ulster won the the tournament in 1999 and Leicester claimed back-to-back victories in 2001 and 2002.

Both have also tasted defeat in finals with Ulster being the runners-up to Leinster in 2012 and Leicester suffered defeats in the 2007 and 2009 finals to Wasps and Leinster respectively.

Ulster and Leicester also met in the 2011/12 Heineken Cup with Leinster winning their Round Two clash at Welford Road 20-9 before Ulster inflicted the Tigers' heaviest Heineken Cup defeat courtesy of a 41-7 result in the return leg in Round Five.

Both sides head into this clash in fine form, with Ulster currently lying fourth in the PRO12 standings while Leicester are third on the Premiership table.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Roger Wilson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Michael Allen.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Miles Benjamin, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Ed Slater, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 David Mele, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Terrence Hepetema.

Date: Friday, October 11
Kick-off: 20:00 BST (19:00 GMT)
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Christophe Berdos (France), Stéphane Boyer (France)
Television match official: Bernard Dal Maso (France)

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