Match Preview | Ulster
Glasgow Warriors return to Guinness PRO14 action for the first time in a month this weekend, as Danny Wilson’s side welcomes Ulster to Scotstoun.
The home team will be hoping to back up their 23-22 victory over Edinburgh in their last outing, which saw the Warriors even up the 2020/21 1872 Cup series.
A stern test awaits them in the form of the Ulstermen, however, with former Glasgow assistant coach Dan McFarland overseeing a squad packed with talent as they chase the Guinness PRO14 title.
Familiar foes in recent seasons, neither side will be willing to give an inch when they go head-to-head under the Scotstoun floodlights.
Here’s how the two teams shape up ahead of the match:
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Ulster form guide
The Ulstermen are right in the hunt for a place in the Guinness PRO14 Final at the end of March, with McFarland’s men currently sitting second only to Leinster in Conference A.
After reaching the competition’s showpiece event in the shortened 2019/20 campaign, the Belfast-based outfit hit the ground running in 2020/21 by edging an eight-try thriller at home to Benetton in round one.
That result saw them go unbeaten in their opening 10 matches of the campaign, with impressive wins over Edinburgh and Munster as well as a nail-biting home victory over Scarlets.
Only Leinster have been able to get the better of McFarland’s men in the league this season, with the defending champions emerging victorious by 24-12 last month.
It was a relatively settled Ulster squad that returned for pre-season following the conclusion of the 2019/20 Guinness PRO14 season, with McFarland and his coaching team able to welcome back the vast majority of their playing group.
Indeed, winger Angus Kernohan was the only outgoing transfer in the summer months as he joined Ealing Trailfinders, whilst Clive Ross, Zack McCall and Tommy O’Hagan also bade farewell to the Kingspan Stadium.
Similarly, Ulster fans didn’t have too many new faces to get used to when rugby returned last August, with Ireland international fly-half Ian Madigan the headline arrival from Bristol Bears.
Former All Black Alby Mathewson also arrived to provide experienced cover at scrum-half, playing a key role in the Ulstermen’s progression to the 2019/20 Guinness PRO14 Final.
Meanwhile, centre Stewart Moore was promoted to the senior setup after impressing in the Ulster academy, adding to the province’s depth in midfield.
Ones to watch
Released by Ireland during the Guinness Six Nations’ fallow week, Stuart McCloskey will be one of the focal points of the Ulster attack under the Scotstoun floodlights. The centre mixes physicality with a subtle passing game, as well as a valuable kicking option in the midfield.
Another to be returning to Ulster from international camp is arguably the province’s most important player; John Cooney is frequently at the heart of all that Ulster do well, with the scrum-half’s nerveless kicking from the tee also pivotal to his side’s recent success.
Whilst team-mates Marcel Coetzee and Jordi Murphy might grab the headlines, keep an eye on their fellow back-rower Nick Timoney. The 25-year-old brings a direct style of running and an impressive turn of pace, having also represented Ireland 7s during his career.
It was Ulster who emerged victorious the last time the two sides met, taking a 40-15 win over the Warriors at the Kingspan Stadium back in November.
TJ Ioane and Grant Stewart were the try-scorers for Wilson’s men, for whom Lewis Bean and Caleb Korteweg made their club debuts.
Glasgow supporters will have far more enjoyable memories of Ulster’s most recent visit to Scotstoun, which saw the Warriors run riot in a 50-20 win in the 2019 Guinness PRO14 semi-final.
The Warrior Nation roared the roof off of Scotstoun as their team ran in seven tries, including a brace for 2017 British and Irish Lion Tommy Seymour.
Ben Blain will be the man in the middle for Ulster’s first visit to Glasgow in over 18 months, as the Scottish referee takes charge of his eighth match in the Guinness PRO14.
Hollie Davidson and Dunx McClement will be his assistants, with Andrew McMenemy on hand as the Television Match Official.
The match will be live on Premier Sports 1, with kick-off scheduled for 7.35pm.
Live commentary will also be available on BBC Radio Scotland MW, whilst you can follow all the action as it happens on our Live Match Centre at glasgowwarriors.org.