Planet Rugby

Preview: Dragons v Ulster

25th October 2012 12:54

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ruan pienaar

Ruan Pienaar: Shifts to 10

Paul Marshall, Craig Gilroy and Lewis Stevenson have all been elevated to Ulster's starting XV for Friday's PRO12 fixture against Dragons in Newport.

The fourth change sees prop Declan Fitzpatrick go straight into the team on his return from a knee injury. Roger Wilson could make his first appearance for Ulster since returning to the club after being selected on the bench.

Marshall's inclusion at scrum-half will see Ruan Pienaar move to fly-half in place of Paddy Jackson who is among the replacements. Tommy Bowe will line up at full-back, with Jared Payne earning a well earned rest after playing in every minute of Ulster's campaign to date.

Gilroy is named on the left wing, with Andrew Trimble switching to the right flank, while Paddy Wallace and Darren Cave continue their impressive centre partnership.

Fitzpatrick replaces All Black John Afoa at tighthead prop and will join Rory Best and Tom Court in the front-row. Lewis Stevenson has replaced the injured Johann Muller in the second-row alongside Dan Tuohy.

The back-row remains unchanged from the one that tackled Glasgow last week in the Heineken Cup, although Chris Henry will have the added responsibility of captaining the side in Muller's absence.

The decision has been made not to risk Stephen Ferris (back) despite him training earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, the Dragons have made two changes for Friday's game as Adam Jones starts at lock in place of Ian Nimmo who is on the bench.

Along with Jones, Jevon Groves replaces last week's captain Lewis Evans who is out with a groin injury. Andy Tuilagi who was named as the Amlin Challenge Cup's man-of-the-match last weekend keeps his place and remains in the centre.

Form: The Dragons' only win in their last seven matches in all competitions was 32-12 at home to Edinburgh in round five of the RaboDirect PRO12. Dragons have won just one of their last 14 encounters with Irish provinces: 22-9 over Ulster at Rodney Parade on 30 September 2011. Ulster continue to set the pace at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table, and still possess a 100% winning record in all competitions this season. The Ulstermen have won five of their last six fixtures with Welsh regions and have been victorious on their two visits to Wales so far this campaign. However, they have just one victory at Rodney Parade in their last six attempts.

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Lewis Robling, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Jevon Groves, 6 Tom Brown, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Steve Jones (c), 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nathan Williams, 18 Dan Way, 19 Ian Nimmo, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Pat Leach.

Ulster: 15 Tommy Bowe, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry (c), 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Callum Black, 18 John Afoa, 19 Mike McComish, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paddy Jackson, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Jared Payne.

Date: Friday, 26 October
Venue: Rodney Parade
Kick-off: 19.05
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Neil Perkins (Wales)
Television match official: Neil Ballard (Wales)

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