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Jones and van der Merwe set for first starts

Guinness PRO14 Rugby Editor

30 Nov 2017

Ulster Rugby

Abbey Insurance Academy back row Greg Jones and South African prop Schalk van der Merwe will start for Ulster for the first time after being selected to face the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday night (7.35pm, BBC2 NI).

The pair made their debuts as replacements in last weekend’s Guinness PRO14 win versus Benetton Rugby at Kingspan Stadium.

Irish internationals Rory Best, Stuart McCloskey and Sean Reidy return to the squad after helping Ireland to an unbeaten November Series, with the latter two selected in Les Kiss’ starting XV.

Paul Marshall, who won his 200th cap last week, will start at scrumhalf, while Christian Lealiifano reverts to flyhalf and retains the captaincy duties.

McCloskey will partner Tommy Bowe in midfield and Craig Gilroy, Louis Ludik and Charles Piutau will form a potent back three combination.

The only change in the front five sees van der Merwe included, as John Andrew, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell retain their places within the team. Jones and Reidy will join Nick Timoney in the back row.

Chris Henry has recovered from injury to take his place on the bench alongside fellow forwards Best, Callum Black, Andy Warwick and Matthew Dalton.

John Cooney, Peter Nelson and Andrew Trimble complete the match day 23.

Ulster Rugby team to play Dragons, Friday 1st December at Rodney Parade, kick-off 7.35pm:

(1-8): S van der Merwe, J Andrew, R Kane, A O’Connor, K Treadwell, G Jones, S Reidy, N Timoney;

(9-15): P Marshall, C Lealiifano; L Ludik, S McCloskey, T Bowe, C Gilroy, C Piutau.

Replacements (16-23): R Best, C Black, A Warwick, M Dalton, C Henry, J Cooney, P Nelson, A Trimble.

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