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Anscombe rings changes as Ulster seek Reds scalp

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Ulster's Ruan Pienaar. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

Ulster's Ruan Pienaar. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

Ulster's Ruan Pienaar. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

MARK ANSCOMBE'S Ulster can do everyone else in the top five a favour by drawing Munster back into the rest of the pack.

The New Zealander has made six changes in personnel for tonight's clash, props Jon Afoa and Tom Court, experienced scrum-half Ruan Pienaar, full-back Jared Payne, lock Iain Henderson and openside Chris Henry bringing greater steel and match-winning potential to the fray against the league leaders.

The most eye-catching decision has been to go with Henderson in the second row for the injured Johann Muller, where his knowledge of the position will be tested by Donncha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Connell.

Munster coach Rob Penney has been given the player management go-ahead to include captain Peter O'Mahony and O'Connell, two vital players.

Penney keeps just three players – O'Callaghan, James Coughlan and Ronan O'Mahony – from the combination that earned four points against Connacht last week at Ravenhill.

The shoulder surgery for Seán O'Brien means Tommy O'Donnell is a frontrunner for the Six Nations and his battle against Ulster openside Chris Henry will be a point of interest to national boss Joe Schmidt.

Verdict: Ulster

Ulster: J Payne, A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy, P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Herring, J Afoa, I Henderson, D Tuohy, R Diack (capt), C Henry, R Wilson.

Munster: F Jones; A Conway, C Laulala, I Dineen, R O'Mahony; I Keatley, C Sheridan; D Kilcoyne, D Varley, S Archer, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, P O'Mahony (capt), T O'Donnell, J Coughlan.

Ulster v Munster, Ravenhill, tonight 7.05 (live RTE2)


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