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Williams makes 10 changes after Ospreys defeat

By Gavin Mairs

Ulster coach Matt Williams has wielded the axe for tonight’s clash against Edinburgh with a total of 10 changes from the side that was routed by the Ospreys.

There are eight changes in personnel and two positional switches as Williams once again throws his balls in the air in the desperate bid to secure that first Magners League win.

Overall his selection makes good sense, with Paul Steinmetz returning at inside centre for the first time since the victory over the Dragons last February.

Steinmetz links up with Darren Cave, who returns at outside centre, with Andrew Trimble switching to the wing in place of Timoci Nagusa.

Isaac Boss also pays the price for some defensive lapses with Cillian Willis handed his first start at scrum-half since his move from Leinster.

The pack is also much-changed. Fit-again Rory Best and Tom Court return to the front row while Ed O’Donoghue replaces Carlo Del Fava, last Saturday’s captain, in the second row.

Stephen Ferris makes his first start of the season after a back injury, coming in on the blindside flank in place of Matt McCullough, while David Pollock, having recovered from a shoulder injury, returns at openside flanker in place of Kieron Dawson.

"The changes I have made are all based on performance, apart from Kieron Dawson,” said Williams.

“Kieron was exceptional last week and has been our best player lately, he is on the bench only because we are giving him a rest from the starting line up this week.

“It’s great to have Paul Steinmetz back to full fitness, he had an operation during the summer and we are so pleased to finally get him back on the pitch. I thought Paul played well against the Ospreys and provided quality leadership on the pitch. Darren Cave is also back in the team, he is very strong defensively.”

Edinburgh full-back Chris Paterson was ruled out for the trip to Belfast with an ankle problem paving the way for Thompson – grandson of celebrated rugby commentator, Bill McLaren and son of Channel Four racing pundit Derek Thompson – to make his full debut for Edinburgh. He said: “I gave my Dad a wee text earlier on and he replied: 'Well done son!' Unfortunately he can’t make it over to Belfast, but I'm sure he has already checked the odds on me scoring the first try!”

ULSTER: B Cunningham; C Schifcofske, D Cave, P Steinmetz, A Trimble; N O’Connor, C Willis; T Court, R Best (C), BJ Botha, E O'Donoghue, R Caldwell, S Ferris, D Pollock, R Diack.

Replacements: N Brady, J Fitzpatrick, C Del Fava, K Dawson/M McCullough, I Boss, I Humphreys, T Nagusa

EDINBURGH: J Thompson; J Houston, H Southwell, N De Luca, M Robertson; D Blair, M Blair (captain); A Jacobsen, A Kelly, G Kerr, J Hamilton, B Gissing, M Mustchin, A Hogg, S Newlands

Replacements: R Ford, G Cross, C Hamilton, C Fusaro, G Laidlaw, P Godman, C MacRae

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