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Preview: Ulster v Glasgow

10th January 2013 09:17

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Glasgow v Cardiff Duncan Weir is tackled by Maama Molitika

Duncan Weir: Starts at 10 for Glasgow

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend has made six changes to his starting XV for Friday's Heineken Cup tie with Ulster at Ravenhill.

The Warriors are still winless in the competition this season but Townsend wants to see Ulster under pressure on their own patch.

"Ulster are clearly a very fine side, they've only been beaten once at Ravenhill in the last 13 Heineken Cup games but this is the kind of challenge we look forward to, it means we're testing ourselves against the best sides around," he said.

"We performed very well in the Heineken Cup last time out against Castres and we're coming off a good run of wins in the league so there's a confidence about the squad at the moment that their hard work is paying off.

"We know our results in the Heineken Cup haven't been good enough so we want to show that we're capable of performing at an elite level regardless of the opponent or the situation."

Townsend's changes are mostly amongst the backs where there are four alterations to the side which beat Treviso at Scotstoun in the PRO12 last weekend.

Fly-half Duncan Weir comes in to partner Henry Pyrgos at half-back while Peter Horne returns to the side at inside centre.

Alex Dunbar keeps his spot at outside centre with Peter Murchie taking up the full-back slot. Sean Maitland returns in place of Tommy Seymour with DTH van der Merwe on the opposite wing.

Up front, Tom Ryder starts alongside Al Kellock in the second row while James Eddie will start in the back row after Ryan Wilson suffered a shoulder injury in the win over Treviso.

The front-row remains the same for the third match in a row but the Warriors will have to contend with a squad of just 22 due to a number of propping options unavailable for the game.

While Ofa Fainga'anuku was injured in the week leading up to Round 4 of the Heineken Cup, Mike Cusack was injured during the game against Castres Olympique and George Hunter suffered a foot injury the following week away at Castres, robbing the Warriors of three Heineken Cup eligible front-rows in a matter of a fortnight.

Neither Jon Welsh nor Ed Kalman have been available since the summer and therefore were not included in the Heineken Cup squad, leaving Gordon Reid the only other fit and eligible prop available to the Warriors.

Following extensive discussions between the club and the competition organisers, the ERC confirmed that tournament rules would not allow another front-row to be added to the list of eligible players.

"We're in a situation which we have never experienced before in the Heineken Cup," added Townsend.

"We've used all our options in terms of nominating additional players for the tournament so, even though German Araoz is fit and ready to play, the rules of the competition mean we can't bring in another player.

"It's unfortunate to have so many props out and that means, by tournament regulations, we have to go into the game a man down.

"Ryan (Grant) can cover both sides of the scrum so we do have some flexibility in terms of bringing Gordon on for either of our starting props."

Pat MacArthur joins Gordon Reid as front-row cover on the bench while Nick Campbell and Tim Swinson provide further options in both front and back five.

Meanwhile, Ulster boss Mark Anscombe has made five changes to the team that beat Scarlets in PRO12 last Friday.

Jared Payne returns from injury and is named at full-back, while Paddy Wallace replaces the injured Luke Marshall and is selected in midfield alongside Darren Cave.

Andrew Trimble, who will make his 150th appearance for Ulster tomorrow night, starts on the right wing, with fellow Ireland international, Craig Gilroy, selected at number 11.

Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar continue their half-back partnership.

There are two changes in the front row with Rory Best starting at hooker and John Afoa named at tighthead.

Dan Tuohy has failed to recover from the calf strain that he sustained against the Scarlets and is replaced in the second row by Iain Henderson.

Robbie Diack, captain Chris Henry, and man-of-the-match from last week, Nick Williams, all start in an unchanged back-row.

Declan Fizpatrick is named on the bench and is in line to make his first appearance since November having recovered from a head injury.

Andrew Trimble will become only the fourth player in Ulster's history to make 150 appearances, behind Paddy Wallace (185) Justin Fitzpatrick (155) and Bryn Cunningham (150).

"I never thought when I was starting out that I would ever make 150 appearances," Trimble said about the achievement.

"When I was younger I supported Ulster and always wanted to play for the province, so to reach 150 is really special."

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry (c), 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Louis Stevenson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Calum Black, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Neil McComb, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Chris Cochrane.

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Robert Harley, 6 James Eddie, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Moray Low, 2 Doug Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 tbc, 19 Nick Campbell, 20 Tim Swinson, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Scott Wight, 23 Stuart Hogg.

Date: Friday, January 11
Kick-off: 20:00
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Laurent Cardona (France), Stéphane Pomarède (France)
Television match official: Hervé Dubes (France)
Timekeeper: David Armstrong (Ireland)
Citing commissioner: Peter Larter (England)
Assessor: Tom Aplin (Ireland)

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