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Ulster look to maintain their recent good form when they take on Munster in Thomond Park

Updated: Saturday, 29 Dec 2012 12:09 | Comments

The influential Tom Court provides Ulster back-up on the replacement bench for the league leaders' trip to Limerick
The influential Tom Court provides Ulster back-up on the replacement bench for the league leaders' trip to Limerick

Ulster will look to push further clear at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table when they travel to Thomond Park to face Munster on Saturday, kick-off 5:30pm (Live on RTÉ Two).

Mark Anscombe has made eleven changes to the starting XV for the trip south with only Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall in the backs, and Neil McComb and Robbie Diack in the forwards retained from the team which beat Leinster 27-19 last Friday night.

Despite resting a number of players and having a large contingent involved in an Ireland training camp in Dublin this weekend, Ulster are able to field an all Irish-qualified match-day squad.

Adam D’Arcy will make his first start of the season at fullback and will be joined in the back three by speedy youngsters Chris Cochrane and Gilroy.

Michael Allen will partner Luke Marshall in midfield, with Paul Marshall and Niall O’Connor forming a new half-back combination.

Up front, Callum Black, Rob Herring and Adam Macklin make up an all-new front row, while Lewis Stevenson has returned from an eight-week injury lay off to partner McComb in the engine room.

Roger Wilson will captain the team from number eight and he will be ably assisted in the back row by Mike McComish and Diack.

Experienced prop Tom Court, who enjoyed a fine man of the match performance last weekend, is included in the replacements.

Munster hooker Damien Varley is under no illusions about the strength of the visiting side and knows that Munster will need to be at their best to defeat this, albeit under-strength, Ulster side.

Varley said: “Ulster are on an unbelievable roll, there is no doubt about that. But they have been growing for some time now. It has just clicked for them this season. Their win over Leinster last weekend was very impressive.

“They have some great players up there and they are running away with it at the top of the table.

“But it would be a great way for us to finish 2012 by winning against them. We have a few big weeks ahead of us. Cardiff follow this one and then we have the two Heineken Cup games, two must-win matches with bonus points and all that needed.”

Munster XV: D Hurley; D Howlett (capt), C Laulala, J Downey, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; W du Preez, D Varley, BJ Botha; D O'Callaghan, B Holland; P O'Mahony, T O'Donnell, P Butler.
Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, S Archer, Dave O'Callaghan, J Coughlan, P Stringer, R O'Gara, F Jones.

Ulster XV: A D’Arcy, C Cochrane, M Allen, L Marshall, C Gilroy; N O’Connor, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring, A Macklin, L Stevenson, N McComb, R Diack, M McComish, R Wilson.
Replacements: N Annett, R Lutton, T Court, A O’Connor, A Birch, M Heaney, S Olding, R Andrew.

Watch Munster v Ulster live on RTÉ Two & RTE.ie on Saturday from 5:15pm.

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