After the heart break of a Champions Cup defeat to Leinster, attention turns to the league, as Ulster begin a run of three tricky games in a bid to secure second place in Conference B.
Dan McFarland has made five changes with Iain Henderson, Robert Baloucoune, Nick Timoney being omitted, while Darren Cave drops to the bench and Rory Best is injured.
Rob Herring replaces Best in the front row alongside Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore. Alan O’Connor captains the side and is partnered by Kieran Treadwell in the second row, who was superb at the weekend. There’s only one change to the back row with Sean Reidy recovering from injury and replacing Nick Timoney at blindside flanker. Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee start at openside flanker and number eight respectively.
McFarland has made just two changes in the backline with Luke Marshall starting his first game of the season after making a try scoring comeback off the bench at the weekend. He starts at outside centre alongside Stuart McCloskey. Rob Lyttle is the only other change as he comes in for Robert Baloucoune. Otherwise, John Cooney and Billy Burns continue at half backs with Jacob Stockdale on the left wing and Michael Lowry at fullback.
I think we’ll see Stockdale bounce back from his error at the weekend. It’s received a lot of attention, perhaps too much, and I hope Ulster try to give him a one-on-one with Tommy Seymour early on. We saw from the opening set piece play against Leinster how he breezed past Adam Byrne with relative ease and it took three players to bundle him into touch.
Glasgow are coming off a hammering by Saracens in the Champions Cup quarter final. Although they were able to score a try inside the opening two minutes, the north London side were too strong, scoring seven tries on the way to a 56-27 win at Allianz Park. While the game got away from Glasgow after half an hour – they were 22-7 down – George Horne and Matt Fagerson scored second half tries to keep the score respectable.
The 2015 PRO12 champions have the ability to play some incredible running rugby thanks to the electric pace of Niko Matawalu on the left wing as well as the vision and broken field running of Stuart Hogg from fullback. With Finn Russell away to Paris, the mantle of the ten jersey falls on the shoulders of Adam Hastings. The 22-year-old is in a similar sort of mould of his predecessor and will look to exploit any holes in the Ulster defence by playing heads up rugby.
Glasgow ran away with Conference A last season but have found it more difficult to assert their dominance on it this season. They lead Munster by three points but face Leinster at the RDS and Edinburgh in their final two games. Like Ulster they have lost just five games in the PRO14 with Leinster being the only side to lose more. Their home record this season has been impressive, only losing one match to Edinburgh in the league at the end of the year while Saracens were the only other side to defeat them at Scotstoun in the Champions Cup.
They’ve scored 70 tries, have picked up 12 try bonus points and two losing bonus points but did suffer the ignominy of losing to the Southern Kings at the end of September. In comparison Ulster have just five try bonus points, one losing bonus point and have scored 51 tries.
With the weather forecast predicting dry conditions ahead of tomorrow night’s match I think we will be in for a treat. Both sides have the ability to play running rugby and while pacey wings are Glasgow’s main strength I think we’ll see plenty of tries in this encounter.
The FRU predicts: Both sides are coming off the back of defeats in Europe and will be wanting to make amends ahead of tough run ins. This is a tough one to call so I’ll side with the home side with the Ulstermen picking up a vital losing bonus point.
|Stuart Hogg||15||Michael Lowry|
|Tommy Seymour||14||Rob Lyttle|
|Kyle Steyn||13||Luke Marshall|
|Sam Johnson||12||Stuart McCloskey|
|Niko Matawalu||11||Jacob Stockdale|
|Adam Hastings||10||Billy Burns|
|Ali Price||9||John Cooney|
|Oli Kebble||1||Eric O’Sullivan|
|Fraser Brown||2||Rob Herring|
|Zander Fagerson||3||Marty Moore|
|Rob Harley||4||Alan O’Connor|
|Jonny Gray||5||Kieran Treadwell|
|Adam Ashe||6||Sean Reidy|
|Chris Fusaro||7||Jordi Murphy|
|Matt Fagerson||8||Marcell Coetzee|
|Grant Stewart||16||John Andrew|
|Jamie Bhatti||17||Andy Warwick|
|Siua Halanukonuka||18||Tom O’Toole|
|Scott Cummings||19||Ian Nagle|
|Tevita Tameilau||20||Matty Rea|
|George Horne||21||Dave Shanahan|
|Pete Horne||22||Darren Cave|
|Robbie Nairn||23||Angus Kernohan|