We have live score commentary as last season Grand Finalist runner’s up Ulster will bid to go one better when they open their campaign with a trip to Wales to face the Dragons.
Mark Ancombe’s side had a mixed pre-season beating domestic rivals Leinster 21-19 at Ravenhill before going down 30-10 away to Leicester last weekend but with opening wins of each of the last three season’s they will be confident ahead of their trip to Rodney Parade.
Last season Ulster did the double over the Dragons running out comfortable 46-19 win over in Wales with Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne amongst the scorers before running 4 tries in a 31-5 win last April. Ulster have a strong recent record against Welsh opponents losing just once in their last 10 games, a 16-12 reversal at the hands of the Ospreys and they last lost to the Dragons in September 2011.
Last year was the first time the Dragons began the new season with a win, beating then newcomers Zebre. In all they won just six games all season to finish second bottom of the table although they did manage to beat Munster 30-24 in their final home game of the season, a result that will give them great confidence ahead of the visit of Ulster.
Ulster Coach, Mark Ancombe has one change from the side that finished their pre-season build up against Leicester Tigers last weekend.
Payne starts at fullback, with Trimble and David McIlwaine on the wings. Chris Farrell and Luke Marshall are named in the centre with Paul Marshall starting at scrumhalf.
Nick Williams was not available for selection as he has returned to New Zealand for family reasons so Robbie Diack, Chris Henry and Roger Wilson will make up the backrow. Callum Black and Ricky Lutton start in the front row, either side of Rob Herring who is picked at hooker while Captain Johann Muller and Dan Tuohy are paired in the second row.
The Dragon’s meanwhile have six new faces in their squad with three of those Richie Rees, T. Rhys Thomas and Matthew Screech starting.
Andrew Coombs will lead the side in his first competitive game as captain while Hallam Amos also moves from full-back into wing as Tom Prydie takes on the other wing. The centre pairing remains similar to last season as Jack Dixon and Pat Leach start.
Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Jevon Groves, 5 Andrew Coombs (capt), 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Dan Way, 2 T.Rhys Thomas, 1 Aaron Coundley.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Phil Price, 18 Francisco Chaparro, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Netani Talei, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Kris Burton, 23 Ross Wardle.
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Chris Farrell, 11 David McIlwaine, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Tom Court, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Sean Doyle, 21 Ian Porter, 22 James McKinney, 23 Darren Cave.