Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Tyrone Howe: Rampant Ulster can tame troubled Tigers

Welford Road is the most intimidating rugby stadium that I have ever experienced. I only played there once and we got hammered.

Of course, this was six days after ‘Super Sunday’, when Ulster put 33 points on the Tigers at Ravenhill and supporters sang out ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ in mock sarcasm when Martin Johnson took the pitch.

We paid a heavy price and it brings back bad memories.

The current atmosphere at Welford Road is a lot different and should encourage every single member of the Ulster set-up that an away victory is a realistic aspiration.

I would not use the word crisis, but certainly there is no question that this is as good a time as any to visit the home of Leicester Tigers.

They are suffering from players being absent through injury, struggling for form, and currently have the worst home record in their domestic league. I have no doubt that they will turn this around and re-establish that fortress mentality, but it is far from impregnable at the moment.

What Richard Cockerill’s men can still do is scare you physically — if you let them.

Their set-piece remains at the heart of their effort, but match them up front and Ulster have more cutting edge in the backline.

Leicester’s defensive organisation has consistently been found wanting all season and the Humphreys/Wallace axis should be able to expose this relative confusion.

These are worrying times for Tigers’ supporters and should Ulster be able to shock the home side, it would have dramatic consequences for both set-ups.

Ulster would take their Pool by the scruff of the neck, while Leicester would enter a full-blown crisis.

Ultimately, Ulster need to come home with something to show for their efforts, but an away victory and a full four points is more possible than ever before.

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