Preview: Leicester v Ulster

Date published: October 17 2014

Leicester’s beleaguered start to the new season appears to be nearly over, but they will be seriously tested by Ulster’s visit.

Leicester’s beleaguered start to the new season appears to be nearly over, but they will be seriously tested by Ulster’s visit.

Between the two of them Ulster and Leicester won three European titles in four years, with Ulster triumphing in 1999 before Leicester went back-to-back in 2001 and 2002.

The Irish province have enjoyed a strong start, capping off the first six weeks of Pro12 action with victory over in-form Glasgow Warriors at home last weekend.

After the off-field upheaval which saw David Humphreys and Mark Anscombe depart stability has come through the work of Les Kiss, temporarily, and now head coach Niel Doak.

Speaking ahead of the trip to Welford Road, Doak has called on his squad for a rise in intensity.

“We’re wanting to hit the different level of intensity that Europe brings. You build your foundation for the first hour, take stock and at the back end make sure you’re in the right areas and we’re not thinking about anything else other than the win.”

Leicester meanwhile have been counting the bodies in the sick ward since the season began but picked up a morale-boosting win over Harlequins last Friday to end a three-match losing streak.

That run had included being nilled by old rivals Bath at The Rec in a 45-0 drubbing – a result you’re unlikely to see again from the Tigers anytime soon.

Experienced openside Julian Salvi spoke earlier this week about the importance of getting a victory to take into European action.

“You want to go into Europe on the back of a confident win, and I think we did that with a good team performance and some decent rugby. Moving into Europe on the back of a good solid win will do us the world of good and puts in good stead to go at it this week.”

In terms of team news, Leicester welcome back Argentina prop Marcos Ayerza, who comes straight into the starting lineup in the only change to the team that won last time out against Harlequins.

Ulster have made three changes to their starting lineup, with two enforced by injury and suspension. Andrew Trimble misses out with a toe problem so Craig Gilroy gets the nod on the wing, while Lewis Stevenson replaces the suspended Alan O’Connor.

Paddy Jackson is the other player to come in, replacing Ian Humphreys in the starting lineup.

Form: Ulster have won the last three meetings between the clubs over the past three years, including 22-19 victory at Welford Road in January. Ulster became the first team in seven years to win a European tie at Welford Road but the Tigers have been looked vulnerable in recent weeks in the Premiership. Ulster have suffered just one defeat on their six games so far in the Pro12.

The teams:

For Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c), 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Sebastian de Chaves, 20 Robert Barbieri, 21 David M