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Sunday 25 August 2019

Ulster on the brink of making the last eight

Rory Best
Rory Best

Leicester coach Geordan Murphy will have a special interest in putting an end to Ulster's revival at Welford Road tomorrow.

The Kildare man has had a difficult time in taking over from Matt O'Conn or.

For all the mediocrity that has defined the Tigers, they simply do not have the players to reach for the stars in the Premiership or in Europe.

They are restricted to incremental improvements, such as the one-off win that could take care of Ulster as they build towards greater consistency of performance.

Dan McFarland's men have won four out of five against Leicester losing four out of five.

This is to ignore the incredible surge the east Midlands club can get from their loyal supporters.

These days, this can revolve around the kind of start Leicester can generate.

When their forwards get their own way, they can be a real handful. Ulster will have to quiet the crowd by winning and keeping the ball.

The health of their half-backs John Cooney (back) and Billy Burns (calf) will be revealed at noon today.

In recent weeks, Rory Best, Marcel Coetzee and Jordi Murphy have stepped up their game. They have given leadership and made valuable interventions in the forward skirmishes.

It is too simplistic to suggest their strategy will succeed or fail on whether they can supply quick, go-forward ball for Will Addison and Jacob Stockdale.

However, they do not have the all-round array of weapons to collapse defences on the inside.

It must be recognised how Dave Shanahan filled in admirably for John Cooney against Racing 92 at The Kingspan.

It was reminiscent of how Duncan Williams responded to the challenge for Munster against Exeter in October.

However, the task of going back-to-back in a different environment is an unknown for Shanahan at this level.

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