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Preview: Ulster v Glasgow

12th September 2013 12:20

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Stuart Hogg Leinster v Glasgow 2013 PRO12 SF

Stuart Hogg: At 15 for Glasgow

Stuart Hogg, Ryan Grant, DTH van der Merwe and Josh Strauss all return to the Glasgow starting XV for Friday's clash with Ulster at Ravenhill.

Hogg makes his first start at full-back since representing the British and Irish Lions in Australia over the summer. The club's record try scorer Van der Merwe comes in on the left wing and Tommy Seymour starts on the right.

Sean Lamont and Mark Bennett will combine at centre with Ruaridh Jackson promoted from the bench to start at fly-half and Henry Pyrgos wearing the number nine jersey.

In the pack Grant returns from Lions duty at loosehead prop, with hooker Pat MacArthur and tighthead Ed Kalman keeping their places in the front row after last weekend's 22-15 win over Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun.

Scotland U20 captain Jonny Gray replaces the injured Al Kellock and he'll combine with Tim Swinson in the engine room.

Josh Strauss returns at number eight, with Tyrone Holmes set to make his first competitive start for the club at openside, while Rob Harley keeps his place on the blindside.

Scotland hooker Dougie Hall is named on the bench, returning to the matchday squad for the first time since the victory over Connacht in Galway at the end of last season.

The Warriors other replacements include Gordon Reid, Moray Low, James Eddie, Chris Fusaro, Richie Vernon, Chris Cusiter and new Argentinean back Gabriel Ascarate.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: "Although it wasn't our most accurate performance last week, we were pleased to win our opening game against Cardiff Blues.

"The players showed great resilience and ambition in the final quarter to deliver our first victory of the season.

"Our work in defence and in the contact area on Friday was positive and is something we can build on going into our game against Ulster.

"We are well aware of the strengths of our opponents and their home record, so we will have to be close to our best at Ravenhill.

"We're delighted to be able to welcome back Stuart Hogg and Ryan Grant into the squad. They returned to pre-season training slightly later than the rest of the group, but have trained really well over the last few weeks.

"We're also pleased to be able to welcome back DTH van der Merwe and Josh Strauss for this game, while Ruaridh Jackson will make his first start since he played for Scotland in the summer.

"Al Kellock's injury is still being assessed, so Henry Pyrgos will captain the side, as he did in our win against Exeter Chiefs a few weeks ago.

"Our games against Ulster last season were very competitive and I see Friday's contest following a similar pattern."

Meanwhile, Ulster coach, Mark Anscombe has made seven personnel and two positional changes to the team that lost to the Dragons last weekend.

One of the changes was forced as Ireland wing Andrew Trimble was unavailable for selection having suffered a finger injury. He will have surgery tomorrow morning and is expected to be out for between four and six weeks.

David McIlwaine starts on the right wing in place of Trimble, while Darren Cave returns to the backline at outside centre, with Luke Marshall moving inside to 12. Michael Allen is selected on the left wing, with Ian Porter picked at scrum-half in place of Paul Marshall who is named on the bench.

Declan Fitzpatrick is selected at tighthead, while in the backrow Roger Wilson moves from number eight to blindside, Sean Doyle is named at openside with Nick Williams starting at the base of the scrum.

Iain Henderson is named among the replacements and will make his first appearance for Ulster this season if he comes on.

Looking ahead to the game Anscombe said: "A good squad is one that can respond to poor performances and bounce back. What we have to do is to right the wrongs and get our accuracy a bit better than it was last week. If we can get that right then we can get a reasonable performance."

Form: Ulster have now lost their last two RaboDirect PRO12 matches but have not lost three in a row since the end of the 2011/12 season. The Ulstermen's only home defeat in the tournament last season came when the Ospreys visited Ravenhill Stadium in early February. No Scottish side has won in Belfast since Glasgow were the visitors in December 2009. Glasgow Warriors beat Cardiff Blues 22-15 at Scotstoun on Friday evening and are looking to begin their campaign with a pair of victories for the first time since 2009/10. The Warriors have won three of their last five fixtures with Irish Provinces.The two sides met on four occasions last season, twice in the RaboDirect PRO12 and twice in Europe with Glasgow's only victory being 20-14 at Scotstoun in the PRO12 in February. The Warriors have been defeated on their last four visits to Ravenhill in all competitions.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 David McIlwaine, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ian Porter, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sean Doyle, 6 Roger Wilson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Tom Court, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 James McKinney, 23 Ricky Andrew.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Mark Bennett, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Ed Kalman, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Gordon Reid, 18. Moray Low, 19 James Eddie, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Richie Vernon, 22 Chris Cusiter, 23 Gabriel Ascarate.

Date: Friday, September 13
Venue: Ravenhill
Kick-off: 19.05
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gary Conway, Kevin Beggs (both Ireland)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)

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PosTeamPPts
1Leinster2282
2Glasgow Warriors2279
3Munster2274
4Ulster2270
5Ospreys2266