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Preview: Connacht v Ulster

24th September 2010 12:06

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Tom Court Ulster rugby 2010

Ulster tighthead: Tom Court

Eric Elwood has named an unchanged starting line-up for Connacht's Magners League meeting with Ulster at the Sportsground.

Just one change is made to the bench, with Darragh Fanning comes in for Tiernan O'Halloran as the Galway side look to continue their impressive start to the season against their unbeaten visitors.

Meanwhile, Ulster Head Coach Brian McLaughlin has made four changes to the starting XV that beat Edinburgh at Ravenhill last Friday.

McLaughlin has opted to rotate some of the pack that has been performing well and that has provided the basis for Ulster's successful start to their Magner's League campaign.

Rory Best returns to captain the side from hooker where he will be joined in the front row by Young and Court.

With Johann Muller and Robbie Diack omitted from the match day 23, recent signings Tim Barker and Pedrie Wannenburg play at lock and number eight respectively. On the bench, Dan Tuohy returns from injury to be part of Ulster's matchday squad for the first time this season.

In the only change to the backline from last week, Paddy Wallace makes his first start at fly-half as part of Irelands Rugby World Cup Player Management programme with Niall O'Connor moving to the bench.

Ulster's last visit to Galway reaped a 24 point victory but, after Connacht's very impressive start to the season, McLaughlin's men will know that another big performance will be required to take the points away from the Sportsground. With only two points on the League table between the two sides there's everything to play for.

Form: Connacht's only win in their last 13 encounters with Ulster since 2003 was 22-12 at the Sportsground on New Year's Eve 2005. Connacht have lost just one of their last seven home games at the Sportsground in the Magners League, but their only victory over a fellow Irish province since December 2008 was against Leinster in Galway on 21 April. Ulster have won their last five Magners League matches and another victory would represent their best ever start to a Magners League season. The Ulstermen have lost their last two away games played at a fellow Irish province.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Troy Nathan, 13 Niva Ta'auso, 12 Keith Matthews, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Frank Murphy (capt), 8 Mike McComish, 7 Ray Ofisa, 6 Michael McCarthy, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Rob Sweeney, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 Shane Conneely, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Darragh Fanning.

Ulster: 15 Jamie Smith, 14 Paul Emerick, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Paddy Wallace, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Tim Barker, 3 Tom Court, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Bryan Young.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 BJ Botha, 18 Paddy McAllister, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Niall O'Connor, 23 David McIlwaine

Date: Saturday, September 25
Kick-off: 19:30 BST
Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: lain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Peter Roche (Ireland)
Television match official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)

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