Ulster have a chance to go two from two for the first time since 2013 as they take on a resurgent Clermont side at Kingspan Stadium tomorrow evening.

Dan McFarland has made four changes from the side that defeated Bath on Saturday. Louis Ludik replaces the injured Rob Lyttle, Eric O’Sullivan starts at loosehead instead of Jack McGrath, Alan O’Connor comes in for Sam Carter and Sean Reidy replaces Matty Rea.

O’Sullivan starts alongside Rob Herring and Marty Moore while Alan O’Connor occupies the lock jersey alongside Iain Henderson. A back row of Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee will have their hands full against Peceli Yato, Arthur Iturria and Fritz Lee.

In the back line, John Cooney and Billy Burns resume at half backs while Luke Marshall continues alongside Stuart McCloskey in the back line. Marshall was excellent against Bath but another task awaits as he is tasked with defending Isaia Toeva in the Clermont 13 jersey. Jacob Stockdale, Louis Ludik and Will Addison are Ulster’s back three options.

All three of the Clermont back row are excellent ball carriers. Yato loves to lurk in the wide channels and possess great pace and a lethal offload. Against Harlequins last weekend, he made 132m off 13 carries and offloaded three times. Ulster have shown in the past that they can limit the damage of offloading Fijians, with Leone Nakarawa not having a lot of joy in his games here with Glasgow Warriors and Racing 92.

I suspect McFarland has selected Louis Ludik to counter the threat posed by Alivereti Raka on the left wing. The winger made his debut for France in August and tore Harlequins apart, scoring a brace in a superb performance. Standing at 6ft2 and weighing over 90 kilos, Raka can shift and I don’t envy the task ahead of Ludik tomorrow night.

Ulster have a right to be confident tomorrow. Bordeaux and Toulon are the only French sides to travel to Kingspan and win since 2008 with Clermont visiting twice in 2011 and 2016. Ian Humphreys scored the decisive try in 2011 while Ulster ran in five tries in 2016.

On paper Clermont are at full strength bar half back with Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez named on the bench. It’ll be a tough battle but I see no reason why Ulster cannot create another super Friday night under the lights in the European Cup.

The FRU predicts: I think Ulster have enough in the tank to get the job done, but expect Clermont to come away with a losing bonus point. Ulster by six.

Ulster   Clermont Auvergne
Will Addison 15 Nick Abendanon
Louis Ludik 14 Peter Betham
Luke Marshall 13 Isaia Toeva
Stuart McCloskey 12 George Moala
Jacob Stockdale 11 Alivereti Raka
Billy Burns 10 Jake McIntyre
John Cooney 9 Greig Laidlaw
Eric O’Sullivan 1 Etienne Falgoux
Rob Herring 2 John Ulugia
Marty Moore 3 Rabah Slimani
Alan O’Connor 4 Paul Jedrasiak
Iain Henderson 5 Sitaleki Timani
Sean Reidy 6 Peceli Yato
Jordi Murphy 7 Arthur Iturria
Marcell Coetzee 8 Fritz Lee
     
Adam McBurney 16 Mike Tadjer
Kyle McCall 17 Loni Uhila
Tom O’Toole 18 Davit Zirakashvili
Kieran Treadwell 19 Thibault Lanen
Nick Timoney 20 Lucas Dessaigne
Dave Shanahan 21 Morgan Parra
Bill Johnston 22 Camille Lopez
Craig Gilroy 23 Apisai Naqalevu
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