Planet Rugby

Preview: Ulster v Scarlets

03rd January 2013 11:18

Share:

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)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs ToulonBrive vs Toulon Preview
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Preview
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26