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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 6th March|
|19:35||Cardiff Blues vs Connacht|
|19:35||Glasgow Warriors vs Zebre|
|Saturday 7th March|
|14:40||Ospreys vs Munster|
|17:15||Scarlets vs Leinster|
|18:00||Treviso vs Edinburgh|
|Sunday 8th March|
|16:00||Dragons vs Ulster|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:35||Leinster vs Glasgow|
|19:35||Ulster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 28th March|
|TBC||Benetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|TBC||Ospreys vs Zebre|
|14:40||Scarlets vs Edinburgh|
|17:15||Munster vs Connacht|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Cardiff Blues|
|19:35||Benetton Treviso vs Ospreys|
|Saturday 11th April|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs Munster|
|TBC||Zebre vs Scarlets|
|14:40||Connacht vs Ulster|
|Sunday 12th April|
|16:00||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Leinster|
|Friday 24th April|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Zebre|
|19:35||Ulster vs Leinster|
|Saturday 25th April|
|TBC||Munster vs Benetton Treviso|
|TBC||Cardiff Blues vs Ospreys|
|TBC||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Scarlets|
|TBC||Connacht vs Glasgow|
|Saturday 9th May|
|TBC||Ulster vs Munster|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Connacht 53 - 5 Treviso|
|Zebre 23 - 17 Dragons|
|Cardiff Blues 21 - 15 Edinburgh|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Munster 22 - 10 Glasgow Warriors|
|Friday 27th February|
|Ospreys 9 - 9 Leinster|
|Ulster 25 - 20 Scarlets|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|Dragons 25 - 30 Connacht|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Glasgow 19 - 16 Ospreys|
|Scarlets 25 - 25 Munster|
|Friday 20th February|
|Edinburgh 17 - 20 Ulster|
|Leinster 29 - 8 Zebre|
|Benetton Treviso 40 - 24 Cardiff Blues|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Leinster 14 - 16 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Zebre 10 - 54 Glasgow|
|Scarlets 32 - 14 Connacht|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Munster 33 - 16 Cardiff Blues|
|Friday 13th February|
|Edinburgh 24 - 16 Ospreys|
|Ulster 43 - 3 Benetton Treviso|
|Sunday 11th January|
|Ospreys 22 - 11 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Benetton Treviso 20 - 24 Ulster|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com