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Preview: Ulster v Scarlets

03rd January 2013 11:18

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SKY_MOBILE Ruan Pienaar - Ulster Heineken Cup

Return: Ruan Pienaar

Ulster boss Mark Anscombe has made eight changes for tomorrow night's top-of-the-table clash against the Scarlets at Ravenhill.

In the back-line, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar all return to the starting XV after missing the trip to Limerick.

Rob Herring and Adam Macklin are retained in the front row, while Tom Court starts at loose head. Dan Tuohy makes his first start after recovering from a torn calf muscle and joins Lewis Stevenson in the second-row. Chris Henry will captain Ulster and starts at openside, with Robbie Diack at blindside and Nick Williams at Number 8.

Callum Black drops to the bench, as does Neil McComb and Roger Wilson. Paddy Wallace and John Afoa are also named as replacements alongside Niall Annett, Michael Heaney and Ricky Andrew.

Meanwhile, Scarlets flanker Rob McCusker returns to the starting line-up after his red card as one of nine changes against Ulster.

After a physical and bruising few weeks over the festive period with a the European double-header and two big away Welsh derbies in just five days, the Scarlets are without 11 players from their squad; 10 through injury and one suspension (Gareth Owen, centre).

Long-term injured backs Rhys Priestland (achilles) and Jordan Williams (shoulder) are both progressing well; with Wales fly-half Priestland now out of plaster and into an air-cast boot and joining the Scarlets for his rehab programme next week.

In the forwards the West Wales side are missing seven players; back row Aaron Shingler (groin), second row George Earle (knee), hooker Ken Owens (ribs), second row Joe Snyman (groin), prop Samson Lee (shoulder) and no8 Kieran Murphy (back).

Backs not available are Rhys Jones (groin); Liam Williams (concussion) and Gareth Owen (three week suspension).

Back row international Rob McCusker returns to the starting line-up after a disciplinary hearing this week upheld that the red card issued to him at the Boxing Day Ospreys derby was sufficient.

Form: Ulster's perfect start to the RaboDirect PRO12 season ended at the 12th hurdle in Munster on Saturday. Ulster's only home defeat in the competition since October 2011 was 8-16 to Leinster on 20 April. Ulster are going for a sixth straight win over a Welsh region. Scarlets only victory in their last five matches in all competitions was 9-6 at Cardiff Blues on 21 December. The only side who have a better away record than Scarlets in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season are Ulster themselves. Ulster have won four of their last five encounters with Scarlets, whilst the Welshmen have not triumphed at Ravenhill since 5 September 2008.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry (c), 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Louis Stevenson, 3 Adam Macklin, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Callum Black, 18 John Afoa, 19 Neil McComb, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Paddy Wallace, 23 Ricky Andrew.

Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 14 George North, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Jonathan Davies (c), 11 Kristian Phillips, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Richard Kelly, 4 Sione Timani, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Craig Price, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Scott Williams, 23 Adam Warren.

Date: Friday, January 4
Kick-off: 19:05
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: Leighton Hodges
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Brian Macneice (Ireland)
Television match official: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

  • RaboDirect PRO12 Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton Treviso17:00
Glasgow vs Ulster19:35
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
Thursday , May 1
Zebre vs Ospreys17:00
Friday , May 2
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow19:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
  • RaboDirect PRO12 Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Friday , April 11
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Friday , April 4
Glasgow 29 - 10 Benetton TrevisoGlasgow vs Benetton Treviso Report
Thursday , April 3
Newport Gwent D'gons 19 - 23 EdinburghNewport Gwent D
Sunday , March 30
Scarlets 32 - 30 ConnachtScarlets vs Connacht Report
Saturday , March 29
Zebre 25 - 25 Newport Gwent D'gonsZebre vs Newport Gwent D
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
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RaboDirect PRO12 Table
PosTeamPPts
1Leinster1969
2Ulster1965
3Munster1963
4Glasgow Warriors1860
5Ospreys1956