Just three points separate Ulster, Leicester and Clermont in the Heineken Cup Pool Four with two matches remaining so when the two former champions Ulster and Leicester clash tonight there is everything to play for as they vie for a place in the last 8. Leicester (+1 Match Handicap) have a formidable record in the Heineken Cup and have qualified for the knock-out stages 10 times.
The Tigers have contested five finals, winning back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002, but losing the showpiece matches in 1997, 2007 and 2009. However Ulster (-1 Match Handicap) are currently top of Pool 4 on 14 points with the Tigers trailing by two going into the crunch match. Clermont Auvergne are just one point behind Leicester in the pool standings and will travel to Aironi this weekend before hosting Ulster the following week.
The Ulster line-up has just one change from the side that defeated Edinburgh, with Paddy Wallace partnering Darren Cave at centre. Ulster have also been boosted by the news Ian Humphreys and Pedrie Wannenburg have both been passed fit for the clash. Both players picked up knocks while in action during 20-42 win in the league last week.
Marcos Ayerza and Martin Castrogiovanni return to the Leicester front row but the Tigers' backline is unchanged. England trio Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi and Louis Deacon are all injured. But Flood's replacement at fly-half Billy Twelvetrees scored all of his side's points in the 29-11 win over Wasps on Saturday which has prompted speculation about a full international call-up as Flood is also set to miss the first two games of the Six Nations.
Ulster: S Terblanche; A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa; J Muller (captain), D Tuohy; S Ferris, P Wannenburg, C Henry.
Replacements: N Brady, C Black, A Macklin, L Stevenson, W Faloon, P Marshall, I Whitten, A D'Arcy.
Leicester: G Murphy; H Agulla, M Smith, A Allen, A Tuilagi; B Twelvetrees, B Youngs; M Ayerza, R Hawkins, M Castrogiovanni; S Mafi, G Parling; T Croft, J Salvi, T Waldrom.
Replacements: G Chuter, B Stankovich, D Cole, E Slater, B Woods, S Harrison, J Staunton, S Hamilton.