Preview: Ulster v Cardiff Blues

24th Feb 2011, 12:41

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Continuing at 2: Andi Kyriacou

Continuing at 2: Andi Kyriacou

Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin has named his starting XV and replacements to take on Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill on Friday.

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has announced his starting line-up and replacements to take on Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill this Friday.

McLaughlin has made four changes of personnel and one positional change following Ulster's win over the Scarlets last Friday which came with Ruan Pienaar slotting a penalty in the final play.

With Paddy Wallace and Tom Court in camp with Ireland ahead of their match against Scotland, Luke Marshall and Bryan Young come in to cover at inside centre and loosehead prop respectively.

Ian Humphreys has recovered from a shoulder injury and is back in the team in place of youngster Paddy Jackson, who won his first cap on Friday at Scarlets.

Meanwhile in the back-row, Willie Faloon is recalled after being rested for last week's trip and he is named in the openside berth with Chris Henry moving to six in place of TJ Anderson who moves to the bench. Andi Kyriacou continues at hooker.

Meanwhile, the Blues arrive in Belfast having secured four successive Magners League victories and climbed from 5th to 2nd in the table in the process.

However, they face an Ulster side whose only loss in their last five matches in all competitions was 22-23 at Ospreys in the Magners League in February. They have won three of their four games against Welsh opponents this season.

"It's a massive game for both teams, who have top four aspirations," said Director of Rugby, David Young

"Maybe it's a tougher game for us because of the international withdrawals, as I don't think they have as many, so it will test our squad a little bit more than them.

"There are two very important games for us during this Six Nations period before our internationals come back but we recorded a good win against Leinster last weekend.

"Our defence was excellent, the attack and approach was very good, but we just didn't cross the whitewash enough.

"We have got to turn those try scoring opportunities into points and make sure we keep the scoreboard ticking over."

Ulster's seven game losing run against Cardiff Blues ended at the Cardiff City Stadium in round eight, whilst the Ulstermen have not achieved a Magners League double over the Blues since season 2005/06.

"I think we have been quite successful over in Ravenhill in recent years so know what it takes to win," added Young.

"It's always a place where I like going. There's a great atmosphere, the crowd are very vocal, it's very intense and it gets the hairs on the back of your neck on end. But there's nothing better than coming away with a win, as very few teams do it.

"Ulster are a better team and a better squad than they have been over the last two seasons, so we are going to have to be somewhere near our best if we are to secure the victory.

"Ulster pose a threat from a lot of areas but obviously Muller in the second row guarantees them lineout possession and is good in defence.

"Wannenburg, their number eight, in the back of the scrum is a very strong ball carrier and can take them forward, while Pienaar has quality written all over him and good enough to play nine or ten.

"They add to the players who have been there a while and have that never say die Ulster spirit. We know it will be a big challenge but one that we are looking forward to."

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Nevin Spence, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Chris Henry, 5 Tim Barker, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Andi Kyriacou, 1 Bryan Young.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Jerry Cronin, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 TJ Anderson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Tommy Seymour.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Richard Mustoe, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Rhys Downes, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Andries Pretorius, 5 Paul Tito (capt), 4 Deiniol Jones, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Taufa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Gareth Williams, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Sam Hobbs, 19 Ben White, 20 Ma'ama Molitika, 21 Tom Slater, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 James Loxton.

Date: Friday, February 25
Kick-off: 19:05
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Alan Rogan (Ireland), Peter Roche (Ireland)
Television match official: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)
Assessor: Brian Stirling (Ireland)