Mark Anscombe admits Ulster have their work cut out ahead of Saracens game
Ulster’s head coach saw his side suffer an untimely loss of form against one of the struggling teams of this season’s Rabo Direct Pro12
Ulster’s Tommy Bowe offloads as Dan Fish makes the tackle. Photograph: Huw Evans/Inpho
Ulster’s head coach saw his side suffer an untimely loss of form against one of the struggling teams of this season’s Rabo Direct Pro12 on the eve of their European quarter-final.
Trailing 22-5 at half-time against Cardiff Blues, Ulster at least recovered in the second-half comeback and came within a kick and a disallowed try of completing their comeback but Anscombe is well aware they cannot afford a repeat performance from the Arms Park at Ravenhill this weekend.
While Cardiff were dogged and passionate, they had none of the brute force Saracens will provide.
“Right now it feels like the glass is half empty rather than half full. That was a good team we had out there and we should be better than giving away points like that,” said Anscombe.
“Yes the team responded and bounced back into the game but good teams don’t need that as a motivation.
“We had nine players out there with more than 100 games for the union. That’s a lot of experience on the pitch and I would have liked to think we didn’t need kick up the backside. I thought we were above that. That attitude should be there from the start. There’s a lot of hard work to be done this week.
“But we were the only team to qualify from the pool stage unbeaten so there’s plenty to get excited about.”
Ulster fell into the trap of believing their own hype while forgetting that a team hurting is a dangerous beast.
CARDIFF BLUES: D Fish; A Cuthbert, C Allen, I Tuifua (G Evans, 75), C Czekaj; G Davies, L Jones (L Williams, 71); G Jenkins (capt), K Dacey (M Rees, 57), T Filise, L Reed (J Down, 70), F Paulo, M Cook (E Jenkins, 75), R Copeland, J Navidi¨.
ULSTER: J Payne; T Bowe, D Cave, L Marshall, A Trimble; P Jackson, M Heaney (P Marshall, 57); T Court (A Warwick, 67), R Herring (N Annett, 70), J Afoa, J Muller (capt, I Henderson, 57), D Tuohy, S Ferris (R Diack, H-T), N Williams, C Henry.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy).