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Ulster will need to bring their best, warns McCloskey


England's Sam Underhill. AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

England's Sam Underhill. AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

England's Sam Underhill. AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

From the relative marathon of the PRO14, Ulster go to The Rec today to face Bath knowing they must get off to a flier.

Last week, Ulster felt they left the game behind them in Thomond Park and while they might have time to recover from such disappointment by the end of the season, Europe is a different ball game

To emerge victorious or defeated from the opening game can be the difference between the quarter-finals or a long spring of watching the conclusion of the tournament from the armchair.

"The way Europe is going now with just 20 teams, every game is massive," centre Stuart McCloskey noted. "You have to have a bit of fear to get that performance out of yourselves. Every team has the beating of the other on any day, and you have to bring your best. They'll know that it's no walkover for them either.

"We've got those results (away from home) and we can have a bit of confidence from having done it before. We're not going over there expecting to win, we're expecting a good contest and hopefully the best team wins on the day."

For the task at hand, Dan McFarland has opted for an interesting blend of returning heavy hitters and form selections. Iain Henderson will lead the side out for the first time since succeeding Rory Best as captain as he makes his seasonal bow for the province.

Marcell Coetzee is back too having been rested against Munster while Billy Burns and Will Addison are both back from injury to start at out-half and full-back respectively.

Elsewhere, in-form winger Rob Lyttle has been selected in the No 14 jersey, making just his third appearance in this competition, while Louis Ludik is among the replacements with no Rob Baloucoune or Craig Gilroy in the squad.

Mattie Rea has got the nod in the back-row with Sean Reidy left among the substitutes and Nick Timoney absent.

The remainder is as expected with Sam Carter alongside Henderson in the engine room and a front-row of Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and Marty Moore.

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Verdict: Ulster

bath - F Burns; S Rokodoguni, J Joseph, J Roberts, R McConnochie; R Priestland, W Chudley; B Obano, T Dunn, W Stuart; J McNally, C Ewels (c); M Williams, S Underhill, Z Mercer. Reps: J Walker, L Boyce, C Judge, E Stooke, J Bayliss, C Cook, M Wright, G Hamer-Webb.

Ulster - W Addison; R Lyttle, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Burns, J Cooney; J McGrath, R Herring, M Moore; I Henderson (c), S Carter; M Rea, J Murphy, M Coetzee. Reps: A McBurney, E O'Sullivan, T O'Toole, A O'Connor, S Reidy, D Shanahan, A Curtis, L Ludik.

Ref - M Mitrea (Italy)

Bath v Ulster, live,

today, VM 1/Channel 4/BT Sport, 1.0

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