Glasgow Warriors are hoping to complete an Irish double this weekend when they travel to Belfast to face Ulster on Saturday.
The Warriors beat Connacht last weekend and will need to repeat their excellent performance at the Kingspan Stadium if they are to emerge successful.
Glasgow have already booked their place in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series but Ulster will be after for as many points as they can get their hands, with Champions Cup rugby still on the line.
The Irish side managed a slender win over Ospreys last time out, with the only try in the tight contest coming from Six Nations Player of the Tournament Jacob Stockdale – one of their main dangermen.
What’s at stake?
Ulster remain one of the few in the Guinness PRO14 with their own fate in their hands going into the weekend.
Finishing fourth would propel them into the play-offs for a Champions Cup spot next season but they face fierce competition from Benetton Rugby.
A match with Conference A side Ospreys awaits the winner of that battle, with Ulster just one point above Benetton in the standings.
Glasgow, on the other hand, are sitting pretty at the top of Conference A but will want to get as much preparation for the Final Series as possible, where they have the chance to become Guinness PRO14 champions.
Team news (Ulster)
Iain Henderson will captain the side from the second row, with Alan O’Connor given the nod for the No.4 jersey.
In the front row, loose-head prop Andy Warwick and hooker Rob Herring come into the starting line-up alongside Ross Kane.
Last week’s Man of the Match Matthew Rea is ruled out by injury so Nick Timoney is brought in to start at blindside flanker, while the only change in the back line comes at Luke Marshall comes into the midfield.
Team news (Glasgow Warriors)
Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie makes six changes to his starting line-up, with Scotland international Huw Jones starting in the middle of the park.
Ali Price and Finn Russell start in the half-back positions, coming in for Henry Pyrgos and Peter Horne, while Alex Dunbar moves to 12.
Elsewhere, Lelia Masaga starts on the wing in place of injured Duhan van der Merwe, Siua Halanukonuka comes in at tight-head for Zander Fagerson, and Tim Swinson replaces the injured Jonny Gray.
Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Dave Rennie said: “We are delighted to have confirmed a home semi-final berth and see the next couple of weeks as a chance to build momentum against tough away opponents.
“Ulster still have a chance to qualify for the Final Series and Europe so have plenty to play for.
“They lead the competition in line-breaks so keeping players like Jacob Stockdale and Charles Piutau quiet will be crucial.”
Key battle – Jacob Stockdale v Lelia Masaga
In fine form, Stockdale was pivotal in Ireland’s Six Nations Grand Slam victory and he has continued the momentum into the Guinness PRO14 with the game’s only score last week against Ospreys.
It seems pretty hard to stop the youngster at the moment and the man credited with that task this weekend is Lelia Masaga.
Masaga has not started for Warriors since December 1 so it will be an intriguing clash on the wing.
Key stat: Ulster’s scrum-half John Cooney is having an outstanding season and is leading the stats in a number of fields, including the most total points (144), most try assists (10), most passes (1367) and most penalties scored (27) in the Guinness PRO14.
Did you know? The Scotsmen have won on just one of their last seven visits to an Irish province: 18-12 in Connacht in the opening game of this season.
Ulster: Charles Piutau, Louis Ludik, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny McPhillips, John Cooney, Andy Warwick, Rob Herring, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (c), Nick Timoney, Sean Reidy, Jean Deysel
Replacements: Rory Best, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Angus Curtis, Tommy Bowe
Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Lelia Masaga, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Alex Allan, Fraser Brown, Siua Halanukonuka, Scott Cummings, Tim Swinson, Rob Harley Callum Gibbins (c), Matt Fagerson
Replacements: George Turner, Ryan Grant, Zander Fagerson, Greg Peterson, Matt Smith, Henry Prygos, Peter Horne, Nick Grigg
Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU, 12th competition game)
AR1: Nigel Correll (IRFU), AR2: Helen O’Reilly (IRFU)
TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)
TV: BBC2 Scotland: 18:00, BBC2 NI: 18:00
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie
Nick Timoney kept Ulster’s hopes of a place in the Guinness PRO14 Finals Series alive with a dramatic bonus-point try in the dying minutes of their win against Glasgow Warriors.
It leaves them four points off third-placed Edinburgh in Conference B, meaning they need to get another bonus-point win against Munster next week and hope the Scots don’t get the one they require against Glasgow.
The odds may be against them but Ulster will be delighted they have a chance after Timoney’s late try to complete a superb win.
John Cooney led the charge with 16 points, while there was also a try for Sean Reidy – while Glasgow’s Callum Gibbins and Fraser Brown also crossed.
The win also keeps Ulster’s Champions Cup qualification hopes alive, as they now move six points clear of Benetton Rugby – securing them a play-off with Ospreys.
It all started so well for Ulster, with Cooney hitting an early penalty before the scrum-half got the first try of the match.
With a scrum in an attacking position, the No.9 spotted a gap and ran through Glasgow’s defence off the back of the set-piece.
Jean Deysel was forced off through injury shortly after, before Finn Russell got Glasgow on the board.
The Scottish side are already assured top spot in Conference A and they showed why minutes later when Gibbins got on the scoresheet.
Cooney added two more penalties to keep Ulster ahead at half time but Glasgow closed to within a point when Brown got their second try of the night.
But Ulster re-opened that lead shortly after with Timoney getting his first of the match after strong work from Ireland duo Stuart McCloskey and Jacob Stockdale.
And just a few minutes later, their pressure told again as Reidy crossed after some fine work from the Ulster forwards.
With their lead secure, Ulster set about getting that all-important fourth try – and they got it in the nick of time when Timoney bundled over.
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