Where can I watch Ulster v Scarlets? All you need to know about the Pro 14 clash
Ulster take on Scarlets tonight in their biggest test of the season so far - here's all you need to know about the big game.
What time is kick-off and where can I watch it?
The match will start at 7.35pm and if you're not heading to the big game at Kingspan Stadium, you can catch all the action on BBC 2 Northern Ireland. The game will also be broadcast in Ireland on TG4. And to cover even more geographical areas, the game will also be broadcast in Wales on BBC 2 Wales.
Where can I get an individual take on all the action?
Keep an eye on the Belfast Telegraph website - our man Adam McKendry will be at the game providing live updates from start to finish.
Will there be a minute's silence for Nevin Spence?
There will be. And there have been plenty of tributes to the former Ulster star on the five year anniversary of his death.
ULSTER: L Ludik; A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; C Leali’ifano, J Cooney; K McCall, R Herring, W Herbst; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; M Rea, C Henry (c), S Reidy. Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Ah You, R Diack, C Ross, P Marshall, P Nelson, T Bowe.
SCARLETS: L Halfpenny; J McNicholl, H Parkes, S Williams, S Evans; R Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, K Owens (c), S Lee; J Ball, T Beirne; A Shingler, W Boyde, J Barclay. Replacements: R Elias, W Jones, W Kruger, D Bulbring, J Macleod, J Evans, R Jones, J Davies.
The Key Battle
John Cooney v Gareth Davies
Replacing the irreplaceable Ruan Pienaar in the Ulster No.9 jersey was always an unenviable task, but former Connacht man John Cooney has dealt with the pressure admirably.
Having impressed on debut against the Cheetahs, he was Man of the Match last time out against Treviso with his try-saving tackle on Angelo Esposito looking crucial at the final whistle of the one-score game.
With Ulster’s attack needing to be at their sharpest against the league champions tonight, the tempo set by the scrum-half will likely be key.
His opposite number Gareth Davies has also began the season well after an interesting summer. The 27-year-old was one of the Lions’ so-called ‘Geography Six’ but there is no doubting his international pedigree after 25 caps for Wales.
As both Leinster and Munster were shown in the play-off rounds last season, Scarlets are a team who attack at will from all angles.
Against the Cheetahs, and to a lesser extent at Treviso last week, Ulster have looked at their most vulnerable when teams look to quickly put width on the ball. Up against a back-three with such potency, they will need to have remedied that flaw in training this week.
Given the constraints placed upon him by non-availability of Lions players and injuries to Marcell Coetzee and Charles Piutau, there can be few arguments with Les Kiss’ team selection.
Unlike the sides Scarlets have met so far this season, tonight’s hosts still have the talent in the back-line to meet fire with fire, and this could prove to be an entertaining one for the neutrals.
As always though, the back-row battle will be key with Chris Henry going head to head with Scottish flanker John Barclay.
The Big Statistic
Including winning both last season’s semi-final and final on their last visits to Ireland, Scarlets have won their last nine league games. One more would equal their best ever run.
The Main Threats
Having scored 98 points already in their two games this season, perhaps a more appropriate question is where don’t the Scarlets pose a threat?
Admittedly up against two sides not expected to be anywhere close to the trophy shake-up come May in Southern Kings and Zebre, the champions have already ran in 13 tries during their title defence and boast a back three that would be the envy of any side in the league.
Two-time British & Irish Lion Leigh Halfpenny has returned to the full-back’s jersey after missing out through injury last week, while wingers Johnny McNicholl (3) and Steff Evans (2) have already been among the tries.
Half-back pairing Gareth Davies and Rhys Patchell are on-song to start 2017-18 while, even with Lions Man of the Series Jonathan Davies on the bench, outside centre Hadleigh Parkes (left) is one of the league’s most under-rated players.
While the backs get all the attention, there is plenty of talent up front with the likes of Ken Owens, John Barclay and Irishman Tadhg Beirne, once of Leinster.
Belfast Telegraph Digital