Pienaar notches up 50th game
RUAN Pienaar will look to celebrate his 50th appearance for Ulster by cementing their position at the top of the Pro12 table.
The influential Springbok returns to the Ulster starting XV after missing the defeat to Munster in Limerick last time out — the province's first league loss of the campaign.
Pienaar is among a number of key players returning to the side following the 24-10 loss at Thomond Park as Ulster face up to a period they have said will define their campaign.
After this evening's visit of the second-placed Scarlets, they host Glasgow in round five of the Heineken Cup then head to France to take on Castres in the pool finale.
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Head coach Mark Anscombe has made eight changes to his side with Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Paddy Jackson and Pienaar returning behind the scrum, while Ireland prop Tom Cour, lock Dan Tuohy and Kiwi No. 8 Nick Williams are among those recalled up front. Anscombe also has the luxury of All Black prop John Afoa among his replacements, although fellow Kiwi Jared Payne sits this one out because of a niggling groin problem.
"It is a big three weeks for us and it kicks off tonight against the Scarlets," said Ulster skipper Chris Henry.
"The Scarlets haven't been at their best lately. They lost to the Ospreys in their last match so they will be hurting at the moment and that will be in their minds. I expect them to come down here and look to throw the ball around.
"They have got a good backline and I am sure they will want to play an expansive game, so we have got to make sure we get stuck into their set-piece and also slow their ruck ball down.
"It is another massive game for us and we want to take every point we can at the moment."