Ulster face toughest challenge yet in Glasgow

Les Kiss reinforces side with Payne and Henderson named in strong XV

Ulster and Ireland’s Jared Payne. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ulster and Ireland’s Jared Payne. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

 Glasgow v Ulster, Scotstoun Stadium, Friday, 7.35pm (Live on BBC 2)

Thundering through their early matches with three wins from three, Ulster’s visit to Glasgow this evening will ask much harder questions than they have faced so far.

To that end coach Les Kiss has decorated the side with a few more eye-catching names, a couple of match-winners who have previously been used off the bench, while Ireland captain Rory Best is shaping up for his first game of the season as a replacement.

Kiss has made nine personnel and positional changes, among them returning Irish back, Jared Payne who also makes his first appearance of the season at fullback, with All Black Charles Piutau on the left wing.

Following a second-half shift in last week’s win over Scarlets, Iain Henderson will start in the backrow alongside Seán Reidy and Roger Wilson.

With Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson ticking nicely and picking up man-of-the-match awards, Ulster are as confident as they can be against a quality side. Glasgow won the corresponding fixture in March of this year 27-17, and they have won their last nine home games in Scotstoun.

Of the 29 games played between the two teams, both have won 14 and one was drawn. Glasgow have obvious threats and the creative Finn Russell at outhalf is one player coming in for his first start of the season.

Fullback Stuart Hogg is another as is Leinster’s tormentor, winger Tommy Seymour for what is a sold-out game.

“Ulster are a quality team and have recruited very well this season. We know it’ll be a tough test,” said Gregor Townsend acknowledging Piutau.

Depending on how Ospreys fare in their match against Leinster in the RDS, a bonus-point win for either Glasgow or Ulster could put either team back on top of the league table.

ULSTER: J Payne; L Ludik, D Cave, S McCloskey, C Piutau; P Jackson, R Pienaar; A Warwick, R Herring (capt), R Ah You, A O’Connor, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, S Reidy, R Wilson. Replacements: R Best, C Black, R Kane, P Browne, C Ross, P Marshall, S Olding, R Lyttle.

GLASGOW: S Hogg; L Sarto, M Bennett, A Dunbar, T Seymour; F Russell, H Pyrgos; G Reid, F Brown, Z Fagerson, G Peterson, J Gray, T Uanivi, L Wynne, R Wilson. Replacements: P MacArthur, A Allan, S Puafisi, S Thompson, M Fagerson, A Price, N Grigg, R Hughes

Referee: I Davies (WRU)

Verdict: Glasgow

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