Ulster have named their starting XV and replacements to play Treviso in the Magners League at Ravenhill this Friday night (ko 7.05pm).
In the back line, only Simon Danielli retains the same position he played in the New Year’s Day derby against Munster at Thomond Park. While Paddy Wallace moves from out-half to inside centre, elsewhere it’s all change as D’Arcy replaces Smith at full-back, Trimble, rested last week, features on the right-wing, Nevin Spence is recalled to partner Wallace in the centre and Humphreys and Pienaar form the half-back partnership.
Up front Tom Court, another player rested last week as part of the player management programme and BJ Botha start in the front row with captain Rory Best. Johann Muller returns to action partnered by Tim Barker who retains his place from last week while Chris Henry and Pedrie Wannenburg start ahead of TJ Anderson and Robbie Diack in the back row.
Stephen Ferris is the notable inclusion on the bench having recovered from a leg injury sustained in training ahead of the December game against Bath at The Rec.
Ulster, who defeated Treviso 9-19 in the away fixture at the end of November, will be looking to get their Magners League campaign back on track after defeats to Leinster and Munster over the festive period, particularly with important games in Europe ahead. Benetton Treviso won both legs of their festive derbies against Aironi over the holiday period.
Gates open at 5.30pm and tickets for the match will be available to purchase on the gates.
Ulster (15-9) Adam D’Arcy; Andrew Trimble, Nevin Spence, Paddy Wallace, Simon Danielli; Ian Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar. (1-8) Tom Court, Rory Best (Captain), BJ Botha, Johann Muller, Tim Barker, Chris Henry, Willie Faloon, Pedrie Wannenburg. (16-23) Nigel Brady, Bryan Young, Declan Fitzpatrick, Dan Tuohy, Stephen Ferris, Paul Marshall, Ian Whitten, David McIlwaine
OK, not bad, not bad at all. Pleased to see Barker keep his spot in second row and I’m pleased to see Faloon at seven but a little dissapointed to not see Diack at eight. It looks like the classy Robbie and Willie are regarded as luxuries and we can only afford to play one or the other.
I do think this limits the development of attacking options and makes us rather predictable in the oponents red zone (I wonder how many tries we’ve scored this season from inside the oponents 22? Very few I’d wager) but should give us a definite edge in the posession stakes even if it will be a bit slow and predictible.
So we’re going to try and batter our way into the league top four and European play offs rather than finesse our way through. It sort of dissapoints me, this reliance on brute force, and I’d much rather see us play smarter rather than harder though I fancy that, for this game at least, the backs will be encouraged to attack from deep whenever thay have the chance. Not out of disrespect to Treviso, who are actually doing rather well, but more likely as a trial to counter Biarritz’s suffocating positional game next week and lets face it that’s really what this game is all about.
I expect an Ulster win but not a bonus point.