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Ulster equipped to ease past Scarlets

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Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe. Picture: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe. Picture: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe. Picture: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

THIS looks just about as straight-forward as Ulster could have planned given how The Scarlets capitulated so completely 41-17 to Benetton Treviso in the final round of the regular season.

Ulster v The Scarlets, Ravenhill, tonight (KO 7.45) Live RTE2 & BBC2

It was a pity for the Welsh club as they had strung together a five-match unbeaten sequence before Treviso came to Parc y Scarlets last week. It must have left them in a state of flux.

There is further evidence of Ulster's strong position in the fact that The Scarlets have not won in Belfast since September 2008.

The Welsh club will have out-half Rhys Priestland back from long-term injury, the explosive Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies at centre, George North on the flank, and a solid back row, led by captain Rob McCusker.

Coach Mark Anscombe makes four changes to the combination that ended Eric Elwood's time on a 20-3 low note at The Sportsground last Friday.

Ireland internationals Paddy Jackson, Tom Court, Declan Fitzpatrick and Dan Tuohy are all back to mitigate the loss of tight-head John Afoa to a hamstring problem.

The sharp rise of Ireland U-20 Stuart Olding has been quicker than expected. He shares with Connacht's Robbie Henshaw a natural composure on the ball.

This will be the last game to be played at Ravenhill as it stands in its current state with construction work due to be finished for the start of next season.

Verdict: Ulster

ULSTER: J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave, S Olding, T Bowe; P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, D Fitzpatrick, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams.

SCARLETS: L Williams; G North, J Davies, S Williams, A Fenby; R Priestland, A Davies; P John, K Owens, S Lee, G Earle, J Snyman, A Shingler, J Turnbull, R McCusker (capt).


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