Match Preview | Ulster
A second consecutive Monday night clash awaits Glasgow Warriors in round five of the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14, as Danny Wilson and his squad travel to Belfast to take on Ulster.
A spirited display against Leinster last weekend was ultimately in vain, as the defending champions came away with victory from their trip to Scotstoun.
The Warriors now travel to the Kingspan Stadium for the first time since April 2018, with both scheduled meetings between the Conference A rivals last season having been cancelled due to the COVID-19 enforced shortening of the Guinness PRO14.
Coached by former Glasgow Warriors assistant coach Dan McFarland, the hosts for Monday’s encounter will provide a stern test for Wilson’s men as they go in search of a first away win of the campaign.
Here’s how the Ulstermen are shaping up ahead of the match:
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Ulster Form Guide
McFarland’s side are one of only three unbeaten sides remaining in the Guinness PRO14 after the opening four rounds, sitting behind only Leinster in Conference A by virtue of having two fewer bonus points than the RDS outfit.
After edging an eight-try thriller against Benetton in Belfast in round one, a hard-fought 24-12 victory on the road to the Ospreys showed Ulster’s hard-nosed edge.
Five first-half tries then blitzed the Dragons en route to a 40-17 win at the Kingspan in round three, before grinding out an 11-7 victory over Cardiff Blues last Monday.
A settled Ulster squad saw few departures over the summer months, with McFarland and his coaching team retaining the bulk of the squad that made it to the Guinness PRO14 Final in 2019/20.
Angus Kernohan was the sole player to move to pastures new in the off-season, as the winger joined ambitious English Championship outfit Ealing Trailfinders.
Two experienced heads arrived in Belfast ahead of the conclusion of the 2019/20 season in August, with both men making an immediate impact.
Ireland international fly-half Ian Madigan wrote himself into Ulster folklore in the Guinness PRO14 semi-final, kicking the penalty against Edinburgh that sent the province to the competition’s showpiece event in Dublin.
Former New Zealand scrum-half Alby Mathewson was also recruited ahead of rugby’s restart, providing an experienced presence at the breakdown.
Ones to watch
In Marcell Coetzee, Ulster are able to boast one of the most dangerous and prolific ball carriers in the Guinness PRO14. The South African leads the league in carries with 26 after four rounds, having also touched down for three tries so far this season.
The experienced Mathewson has settled in immediately at the Kingspan Stadium, his speed of service and threat around the breakdown providing Ulster with front-foot ball from which to launch attack upon attack. Capped five times by the All Blacks, he provides a perfect foil to fellow scrum-half John Cooney to give Ulster a high-quality tandem for the number nine jersey.
A try-scorer in the Guinness PRO14 Final, centre James Hume has been catching the eye of Irish rugby observers after breaking onto the scene last season. A balanced runner with impressive distribution skills, the former Ireland U20 international is a promising up-and-comer for both club and country.
The Warrior Nation have fond memories of the most recent meeting between their side and Ulster, having roared their team to a 50-20 victory in the 2019 semi-final at Scotstoun.
Two tries from Tommy Seymour plus scores from Ali Price, Rob Harley, Kyle Steyn and both Horne brothers saw Glasgow delight the home supporters, booking a place in the 2019 Final to boot.
It was Ulster who emerged victorious on Glasgow’s most recent trip to Belfast though, claiming a 36-15 win over the Warriors in April 2018.
Nick Timoney’s brace, coupled with tries from Cooney and Sean Reidy, ensured it would be a full five points for the Ulstermen in front of their own supporters.
The familiar figure of Nigel Owens will oversee Monday night’s clash at the Kingspan, as the Welshman takes charge of his 186th Guinness PRO14 match.
Frank Murphy and Chris Busby will be on the touchlines as assistant referees, with Joy Neville on hand as TMO should she be required.
The match will be broadcast live on Premier Sports 1, with kick-off set for 8.15pm.
Radio commentary will also be available on BBC Radio Scotland MW, whilst you can keep up to date with all the action as it happens with our Live Match Centre on glasgowwarriors.org.