McCall looks to build on win over Stade


Ulster coach Mark McCall will be looking to build upon last weekend's superb Heineken European Cup victory over Stade Francais for tomorrow night's Celtic League clash against Edinburgh. There should be plenty of pre-Christmas cheer at Ravenhill and McCall will be keen to ensure his team continue on their winning ways.

He makes three changes to the team that started the game against Stade Francais and the same number amongst the replacements.

New Zealander Paul Steinmetz replaces Johnny Bell in the centre while Tyrone Howe is recalled on the wing in place of Scott Young, the latter injured during the first half of the Stade Francais game.

Up front in-form flanker Neil Best is suspended for one match as a result of picking up three yellow cards in the Celtic League competition and his place goes to Gavin Pfister who makes his first start for the Irish province.

Nigel Brady, who has acted a cover at hooker for the last few games, was deemed to require a little game-time so he'll play All-Ireland League rugby with Dungannon this weekend.

Rory Best comes into the replacements as does his brother, Simon, who has been sidelined since injuring a leg while playing for Ireland in a Test match against the USA at Lansdowne Road last month.

The other alteration sees Andrew Maxwell restored to the match 22. Ulster are just one place above Edinburgh in the Celtic League table and with two home wins in a row, will be gunning for a victory in their final Ravenhill outing of 2004.

Connacht have made two changes to the team that lost to Montpellier last weekend in the European Challenge Cup for tomorrow night's Celtic League clash with Glasgow at Hughenden (7:30). Justin Meagher is named on the right wing in place of Ted Robinson, the latter dropping to the bench while Christian Short will partner captain Andrew Farley in the second row with Pieter Myburgh dropping to the replacements.

Adrian Clarke replaces the injured Dan McFarland on the bench while Niall O'Brien and Tom Tierney also come into the squad, the latter in place of the injured Conor O'Loughlin. The recovery from injury of O'Brien and Tierney is a relief for coach Michael Bradley because backs' cover has been extremely limited in recent weeks.

Connacht have decided not to pursue allegations of gouging and biting against Montpellier.

Leinster won't confirm their starting line-up for Saturday's game against Cardiff at the Arms Park until definitive medical reports have been received on prop Emmett Byrne and wing Shane Horgan. Both are nursing knocks arising from the province's victory over Bourgoin at Stade Pierre Rajon last Friday night.

Coach Declan Kidney has named the pair in the squad but is awaiting medical confirmation they can play. Number eight Des Dillon will be out for six to eight weeks after sustaining an injury in a club match last weekend while Christian Warner is still a couple of weeks away from rejoining the squad following injury.

Ireland captain and two-try hero from the last day Brian O'Driscoll is rested for the Cardiff match, as is wing Denis Hickie. David Blaney, who's been named on the bench in recent weeks, gets a chance to play for UCD with Gavin Hickie likely to act as cover for Shane Byrne.

ULSTER: B Cunningham; T Bowe, K Maggs, P Steinmetz, T Howe; D Humphreys, K Campbell; R McCormack, P Shields, R Moore; G Longwell, M McCullough; C Feather (capt), R Wilson, G Pfister. Replacements: R Best, S Best, R Frost, M Mustchin, N Doak, A Larkin, A Maxwell.

CONNACHT: M Mostyn, J Meagher, P Warwick, J Downey, C McPhillips; E Elwood, C Keane; R Hogan, B Jackman, S Knoop; C Short, A Farley; M Swift, J O'Sullivan, J Muldoon. Replacements: J Fogarty, A Clarke, P Myburgh, B O'Connor, T Tierney, T Robinson, N O'Brien.

LEINSTER (squad): G Easterby, B O'Meara, D Holwell, F Contepomi, G Brown, D Quinlan, K Lewis, S Horgan, J Norton, J McWeeney, G Dempsey, AN Other, R Corrigan (capt), E Byrne, P Coyle, R Nebbett, S Byrne, G Hickie, M O'Kelly, B Gissing, C Potts, S Jennings, A McCullen, E Miller, V Costello.