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RaboDirect PRO12 match preview: Ulster v Dragons
Second-placed Ulster have named Tommy Bowe on the right wing for their RaboDirect PRO12 meeting with the Dragons at Ravenhill on Friday.
Head coach Mark Anscombe has made seven personnel and two positional changes to the team which lost 27-16 last time to Saracens in the Heineken Cup.
Irish international Bowe, who won his 100th cap for Ulster when he came off the bench in the defeat, starts his first game for the province since he injured knee ligaments against Northampton in December.
Peter Nelson is named at full-back instead of Jared Payne, who picked up a slight ankle knock at Twickenham, while Stuart Olding replaces Luke Marshall who suffered concussion in the game.
Paddy Jackson is rested for the game, so Ruan Pienaar switches to fly-half, with Paul Marshall coming in at nine.
Tom Court remains at loosehead alongside Rory Best, who will captain the side. Ricky Lutton starts at tighthead.
With Johann Muller out for three weeks with a bicep injury, Iain Henderson is selected in the second-row alongside Dan Tuohy. Robbie Diack therefore comes in at blindside flanker.
Chris Henry is rested for the match, so Mike McComish is selected at openside with Nick Williams named at number eight.
Meanwhile, Dragons coach Darren Edwards has made the changes in the forward pack by including Sam Parry, who steps up from the bench against the Scarlets, Nathan Buck and open side flanker Darren Waters.
The men of Gwent will keep the faith in their young centre pairing of Pat Leach and Jack Dixon; they stand alongside Dan Evans who impressed with a man of the match performance, at number ten in the Dragons last match against the Scarlets. Welsh international Andrew Coombs also retains his place as captain of the regional side.
On the bench, Andy Tuilagi returns from a hamstring injury. He sits alongside Hugh Gustafson, Nathan Williams and Adam Jones who have all been changed from the previous line up.
Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Mike McComish, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Ali Birch, 21 Niall O'Connor, 22 Mike Allen, 23 Adam D'Arcy.
Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ross Wardle, 10 Dan Evans, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Darren Waters, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Andrew Coombs (c), 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Aaron Coundley.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Nathan Williams, 18 Dan Way, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Jevon Groves, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Andy Tuilagi.
What they said...
Ulster's Johann Muller
"While we are disappointed that we didn't win the Heineken Cup quarter-final, we have still got plenty to play for. We are right up there in the PRO12 and hopefully we can get some silverware at the end of the season," he told the club's official website.
Dragons coach Darren Edwards
"Darren (Waters) has been hugely missed and the timing of his injury couldn't have been worse - there was a big opportunity for him after Gavin Thomas retired last season. While he was out we found Nic (Cudd), and that means that we have got two great sevens going into next year. Darren has worked so hard to come back and stood out in the Premiership, now we have to create some competition," he told the club's official website.
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Friday 26th December|
|14:05||Cardiff Blues vs Dragons|
|17:00||Munster vs Leinster|
|18:45||Ulster vs Connacht|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:40||Glasgow Warriors 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||Scarlets vs Connacht|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Ulster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Zebre vs Glasgow|
|TBC||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 21st February|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Cardiff Blues|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Dragons 25 - 11 Zebre|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Ospreys 31 - 20 Ulster|
|Glasgow Warriors 21 - 18 Munster|
|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|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com