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Glasgow Warriers v Ulster - RaboDirect PRO12 preview
Glasgow will hope to back up their impressive 60-3 win over Dragons when they run out to face PRO12 leaders Ulster at Scotstoun Stadium.
In team news for Friday, Peter Horne has been handed the fly-half jersey on his 50th appearance for the Warriors as head coach Gregor Townsend makes six changes to the starting XV seeking to build on last week's record victory.
Horne, who has recovered from the fracture that kept him out of the Scotland squad for the Six Nations has been given the task of orchestrating from the pivot in the top of the table battle.
The Warriors sit seven points behind Ulster.
Glasgow have won their last five PRO12 matches and haven't tasted defeat in the league since a 0-6 reverse to Leinster back in November but the Warriors will again call upon talent from the club game as their front-row continues to be in-demand or out injured.
Ryan Grant, Jon Welsh and Moray Low are all on Scotland duty while Gordon Reid has not been passed fit after suffering concussion at the weekend in the game against Dragons. EDP prop George Hunter is still recovering from a foot injury suffered in December while Mike Cusack is recovering from a shoulder injury.
It means a second start this season for Tongan prop Ofa Fainga'anuku and a return to starting duties for Ed Kalman. The front row is bolstered by the inclusion of Pat MacArthur.
Meanwhile, Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has made 11 personnel changes to his team for this weekend's RaboDirect PRO12 encounter.
Neil Walsh and Conor Joyce will start in an Ulster shirt for the first time after being named on the left wing and back-row respectively. Walsh made his debut as a late replacement in last week's win over Zebre, while Joyce's previous appearance was in the 2011 Boxing Day defeat to Leinster.
The side will be captained by tighthead prop John Afoa, who is joined in an all-new front-row by Nigel Brady and Callum Black. Dan Tuohy and Neil McComb come in to the second row in place of regular skipper Johann Muller and Lewis Stevenson. Robbie Diack, the only forward retained from the Zebre fixture, will again start at eight and will combine in the back-row with Joyce and Ali Birch.
With Paddy Jackson starting for Ireland this weekend, Anscombe has called upon Paddy Wallace to direct affairs from fly-half. The backline reshuffle also results in Andrew Trimble moving to outside centre where he is partnered in midfield by Stuart Olding, who produced an impressive performance off the bench last weekend. Michael Allen will line up on the right wing for his twelfth cap, with Walsh on the opposite flank. Ruan Pienaar (scrum-half) and Ricky Andrew (full-back) complete the backline.
Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Peter Horne, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Ryan Wilson (capt), 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Ed Kalman, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Luke Pettie, 18 Garry Mountford, 19 Nick Campbell, 20 James Eddie, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Scott Wight, 23 Graeme Morrison.
Ulster: 15 Ricky Andrew, 14 Michael Allen, 13 Andrew Trimble, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Neil Walsh, 10 Paddy Wallace, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Ali Birch, 6 Conor Joyce, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Neil McComb, 3 John Afoa (capt), 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Ricky Lutton, 18 Andrew Warwick, 19 Alan O'Connor, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Darren Cave, 23 Chris Cochrane.
What they said...
Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend
"We played some very good rugby last week and scored some excellent tries but I believe there is more to come from this group of players.
"We know we have to perform at those high levels week in and week out when we are competing against sides as good as Ulster.
"We have faced them three times already this season and we're yet to win one, so we're determined to put that right.
"Peter brings another dimension to our play and will lead what is an exciting back division. I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do on Friday night.
"We are now entering the business end of the season, where each match has ramifications on the play-off positions. We will be playing six out of the top seven sides in the next two months and we'll have to be at our best to succeed."
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Saturday 20th December|
|14:40||Glasgow Warriors vs Munster|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Ulster|
|Sunday 21st December|
|16:00||Dragons vs Zebre|
|Friday 26th December|
|14:05||Cardiff Blues vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|17:00||Munster vs Leinster|
|18:45||Ulster vs Connacht|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:40||Glasgow vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Ospreys vs Scarlets|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:00||Zebre vs Treviso|
|Thursday 1st January|
|14:05||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Cardiff Blues|
|17:00||Connacht vs Munster|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Glasgow Warriors|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Zebre|
|14:40||Leinster vs Ulster|
|17:05||Scarlets vs Ospreys|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:35||Connacht vs Edinburgh|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:40||Cardiff Blues vs Leinster|
|15:00||Zebre vs Munster|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Treviso vs Ulster|
|16:00||Ospreys vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Wednesday 14th January|
|TBC||Leinster vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Ulster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Friday 19th December|
|Cardiff Blues 21 - 9 Scarlets|
|Edinburgh 48 - 0 Treviso|
|Leinster 21 - 11 Connacht|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Glasgow Warriors 19 - 15 Dragons|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Connacht 14 - 8 Scarlets|
|Leinster 18 - 12 Ospreys|
|Zebre 18 - 10 Edinburgh|
|Friday 28th November|
|Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 Treviso|
|Munster 21 - 20 Ulster|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff Blues|
|Treviso 24 - 24 Leinster|
|Friday 21st November|
|Ulster 25 - 16 Ospreys|
|Connacht 43 - 3 Zebre|
|Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow Warriors|
|Dragons 12 - 38 Munster|
|Saturday 1st November|
|Ulster 23 - 6 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Scarlets 28 - 13 Zebre|
|Cardiff Blues 24 - 28 Munster|
|Friday 31st October|
|Ospreys 26 - 11 Connacht|
|Glasgow 17 - 9 Benetton Treviso|
|Leinster 33 - 8 Edinburgh|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com