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Ulster victory is a must as Edinburgh visit Kingspan for Pro 14 clash: Marshall


By Jonathan Bradley

Fit-again Ulster centre Luke Marshall is ready for the Pro14 play-off push ahead of tonight's crucial contest with Edinburgh at Kingspan Stadium (7.35pm kick-off).

Edinburgh arrive in Belfast just three points behind Jono Gibbes' men and could leapfrog their hosts into the final play-off place in Conference B with a victory.

With only six games left after this evening, Marshall knows that Ulster can't afford a slip-up against their nearest rivals.

"Obviously it is a must-win game, then we've the Scarlets after that, so we're getting to the stage where we don't really want to slip up many more times. The pressure is on really," he said.

"They're going well. Richard Cockerill has definitely done a good job so far. They play decent rugby, quite forward-orientated with a physical edge and they are reaping the benefits of some of the signings they have made.

"They have a lot of good players, and look at last week when they had a bonus win against Leinster."

Marshall starts in the centre for the second game running after three months out, while Tommy Bowe is back from injury.

Bowe had been dealing with a shoulder issue picked up against Leinster in the first game of 2018 but is fit again to take his place on the wing.

It will be the Monaghan man’s first outing since he announced that he would retire in the summer and he will be joined in the back-three by Louis Ludik and Craig Gilroy.

Gilroy, a scorer of nine tries in his last seven games, is the only holdover in that unit from the big win over Kings with Charles Piutau and Rob Lyttle both on the sidelines after injuries picked up in that nine-try romp.

Alongside Marshall, Stuart McCloskey also goes again, and there is no change with the half-backs either where Gibbes has kept faith with youngster Johnny McPhillips after a promising first start and John Cooney is, as usual, in the nine jersey.

Rob Herring has been returned from Ireland camp to start at hooker with Andy Warwick and Wiehahn Herbst continuing to get the nod at prop, backed up by Kyle McCall and Rodney Ah You.

Alan O’Connor will hold onto the captaincy despite Herring’s return, and joins Kieran Treadwell in the engine room, while the only change to the back-row is a first start for South African Jean Deysel since the loss to Leinster at the start of January, taking the place of the injured Sean Reidy.

Again there is no specialised ten cover on a bench that includes Darren Cave, David Busby and Jonny Stewart.

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