Monday 22 January 2018

Blues a long-shot as Ulster bid for PRO12 breakthrough

Ulster can be the source of all redemption for Leinster in the PRO12 League at The Kingspan Stadium tonight.

The super-optimist might just about be able to comprehend how the heartbreak in Marseille may just be a corner turned into Miracle Street.

Already, the epitaph has been written large about how the defeats at home and away to The Dragons, as well as the pitiful return of eight points from the Six Nations window, compared to 19 last season have made play-off life in the PRO12 almost impossible.

"The physical bit is probably not as significant as the mental bit," offered up coach Matt O'Connor.

Ulster will have been lying, preparing in wait to rid themselves of the hoodoo label Leinster has become to them, especially on the big days.


This may not be a final. But, it is Leinster's final chance to make something out of their season or go quietly into the night.

"It's going to be a pretty physical battle, so the freshness will be pretty important. Mentally is the real challenge," said O'Connor.

"Making sure we take the positives out of the good bits that were on display on Sunday and try make sure we are a little bit better in those key moments that probably cost us the result."

It was Ulster who failed to fire against Toulon home and away in the Champions Cup, forcing them to turn all their attention on the PRO12 League.

It could well work out for them.

Ulster: L Ludik; T Bowe, J Payne, D Cave, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Best (capt), W Herbst, D Tuohy, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, R Wilson.

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner; B Te'o, G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Gopperth, I Boss; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross, D Toner, M McCarthy, S O'Brien, D Ryan, J Heaslip (capt).

Verdict: Ulster

ulster v leinster, tonight (ko 7.35) Live bbc2/sky sports 5

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