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Marshall starts as Ulster name strong team for Glasgow assignment

The northern province make five changes from last week’s agonising European defeat to Leinster.

AS ULSTER’S ATTENTION turns to securing a Guinness Pro14 play-off berth, Dan McFarland has named a strong team for his side’s trip to Glasgow Warriors on Friday evening, with 10 players retained from last weekend’s defeat to Leinster.

While captain Rory Best misses out through injury, the likes of Jacob Stockdale, John Cooney, Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee are all selected to start the round 19 encounter at Scotstoun [KO 7.35pm, Premier Sports/eir Sport].

Luke Marshall Marshall is back after a long injury lay-off. Source: Matt Mackey/INPHO

Luke Marshall will make his first start in just under a year when he lines up in midfield alongside Stuart McCloskey, after the centre made his long-awaited injury comeback off the bench at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday. 

Marshall has battled back from a serious knee injury sustained in the Champions Cup play-off last May and after making a try-scoring cameo in the European quarter-final defeat in Dublin, will look to make an impact as Ulster chase silverware.

The northern province are sitting second in Conference B behind Leinster with a four-point advantage over Benetton and seven-point buffer on Edinburgh, who they face next weekend.

McFarland’s team selection reflects the importance of the next two rounds of action, with the Ulster head coach making just five changes in personnel as Rob Lyttle, Marshall, Rob Herring, Alan O’Connor and Sean Reidy all come into the starting XV. 

Billy Burns and Cooney again form the half-back pairing while O’Connor comes into the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell to captain the side, with Reidy joining Murphy and Coetzee in the back row. 

John Andrew, Andy Warwick and Tom O’Toole will cover the front row on the bench, with Ian Nagle and Matthew Rea named as the additional forward replacements.

David Shanahan, Darren Cave — who announced he will retire at the end of the season yesterday — and U20 Grand Slam winner Angus Kernohan will provide the backline options.

Glasgow, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from their disappointment at Allianz Park last weekend where they were blown away by a rampant Saracens outfit in their Champions Cup quarter-final.

Jonny Gray Gray is set to make his 100th Glasgow appearance. Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

Dave Rennie’s side lead Conference A by three points and will be looking to take a big step towards securing a home semi-final having lost just twice at Scotstoun this season –to Saracens in the Champions Cup pool stages and Edinburgh in the Pro14.

Scottish international Jonny Gray will make his 100th appearance for the Warriors, who have plenty of experience in their side, while Tommy Seymour returns to the wing after recovering from a rib injury sustained during the Six Nations.

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“Historically these games have been tasty and it’s great that we’re going to have a packed, noisy stadium at our backs to carry us through,” Rennie said. “Everyone knows what’s at stake.

“It’s the business end of the season now and we’ve got ourselves in a pretty decent spot but the real fight starts now and the boys are certainly up for it.” 

Ulster:

15. Michael Lowry
14. Rob Lyttle
13. Luke Marshall
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Billy Burns
9. John Cooney

1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rob Herring
3. Marty Moore
4. Alan O’Connor (captain)
5. Kieran Treadwell
6. Sean Reidy
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Marcell Coetzee. 

Replacements:

16. John Andrew
17. Andrew Warwick
18. Tom O’Toole
19. Ian Nagle
20. Matty Rea
21. Dave Shanahan
22. Darren Cave
23. Angus Kernohan. 

Glasgow Warriors:

15. Stuart Hogg
14. Tommy Seymour
13. Kyle Steyn
12. Sam Johnson
11. Niko Matawalu
10. Adam Hastings
9. Ali Price

1. Oli Kebble
2. Fraser Brown
3. Zander Fagerson
4. Rob Harley
5. Jonny Gray
6. Adam Ashe 
7. Chris Fusaro (captain)
8. Matt Fagerson.

Replacements:

16. Grant Stewart 
17. Jamie Bhatti
18. Siua Halanukonuka 
19. Scott Cummings
20. Tevita Tameilau 
21. George Horne 
22. Pete Horne
23. Robbie Nairn.

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Ryan Bailey

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