Three changes have been made to the Ulster team from the side that narrowly defeated Edinburgh ahead the first away match of the season against Southern Kings.
Sean Reidy and Alan O’Connor are promoted from the bench and replace Jordi Murphy and Iain Henderson while Tom O’Toole is recalled to the side after suffering concussion against Scarlets.
O’Toole starts at tighthead alongside Andy Warwick and Rob Herring who captains the side. O’Connor rekindles his partnership with Kieran Treadwell in the second row, having made 16 appearances together last season. Reidy joins Marcell Coetzee and Nick Timoney in the back row.
The same backline is named that started the matches against Scarlets and Edinburgh. John Cooney and Billy Burns are the half back pairing while Stuart McCloskey and Darren Cave link up in the centres. Henry Speight and Craig Gilroy start on the wings with the impressive Will Addison at fullback.
The Kings picked up their first match points in this fixture last season in a 43-36 try fest last season but finished at the foot of Conference B by some distance with a solitary victory over the Dragons. Again this season they have began with two defeats to Zebre and Dragons.
Against the Dragons they played poorly in the opening stages allowing the home side a 17-0 lead. They managed to pull the scoreline back to 17-17 before Josh Lewis scored a converted try and penalty to put the result beyond all doubt.
As Ulster will be aware from last season, the Southern Kings, like the Cheetahs, thrive off broken play. Yaw Penxe and Berton Klaasen scored braces in this fixture last season and both start on Sunday. Both players are dangerous if given space.
On the other hand, the Kings have a soft under belly. The Dragons got a lot of joy around the fringes at ruck time with the pillars and guards often out of position. Any time they made a linebreak, the South Africans struggled to stem the momentum. Ulster have more quality in the backline than Dragons so they should be able to finish off more of the chances.
At lineout time Bobby de Wee usually makes the calls to himself but with him starting on the bench, the calls may more varied than the from the match against Dragons in which they lost two lineouts in the first 15 minutes. They’re weak under the high ball and have 62 tackles in their opening two matches, compared to Ulster’s 32 missed tackles.
The FRU predicts: A comfortable Ulster win in Port Elizabeth. We could see the very best of Marcell Coetzee tomorrow. Ulster by 20 points.
|Southern Kings||Ulster Rugby|
|Michael Botha||15||Will Addison|
|Yaw Penxe||14||Craig Gilroy|
|Harlon Klassen||13||Darren Cave|
|Berton Klassen||12||Stuart McCloskey|
|Bjorn Basson||11||Henry Speight|
|Masixole Banda||10||Billy Burns|
|Godlen Masimla||9||John Cooney|
|Schalk Ferreira||1||Andrew Warwick|
|Michael Willemse (C)||2||Rob Herring|
|Luvuyo Pupuma||3||Tom O’Toole|
|Schalk Oelofse||4||Alan O’Connor|
|John-Charles Astle||5||Kieran Treadwell|
|Stephan De Wit||6||Marcell Coetzee|
|Martinus Burger||7||Sean Reidy|
|Andisa Ntsila||8||Nick Timoney|
|Alandre Van Rooyen||16||Adam McBurney|
|Xandre Vos||17||Eric O’Sullivan|
|Justin Forwood||18||Wiehahn Herbst|
|Bobby De Wee||19||Jean Deysel|
|Ruaan Lerm||20||Matthew Rea|
|Rudi van Rooyen||21||Dave Shanahan|
|Martin Du Toit||22||Angus Curtis|
|Ntabeni Dukisa||23||Angus Kernohan|