Belfast Telegraph

Ulster's goose is cooked without battering ram Williams, says Scarlets' Pitman

Scarlets star Rory Pitman has added a dash of seasonal spice to Sunday’s big Euro showdown with Ulster by claiming that the visitors will be a weaker animal without their ‘big goose’ Nick Williams.

Last weekend’s European Champions Cup triumph over the West Wales side came at a cost, with the talismanic Williams one of five first team stars potentially sidelined for the return leg at Parc Y Scarlets.

And Pitman, who carried the ball more than any other player in round three, thinks his side’s chances of a revenge victory on home soil have been boosted by the loss of Ulster’s Kiwi battering ram.

He said: “It’s always a nice to battle-it-out against Nick Williams, he’s a big old goose.

“It was good to play against him because you want to test yourself against the best.

“He would definitely be a big loss for them if he’s injured because they always look for him to get over the advantage line.”

Pitman added: “Whatever team they put out, we’re looking forward to it.”

Pitman did admit, however that, in the absence of Williams, Ulster still have "guys like Roger Wilson who's a very athletic and abrasive player."

Williams and Wiehahn Herbst will both be left out of the Ulster squad for the trip across the Irish Sea after they limped off with hamstring injuries.

Stuart McCloskey has been sidelined by an elbow injury he picked up after replacing Stuart Olding who suffered concussion.

Franco van de Merwe will also have to pass concussion protocols if he is to feature, but no matter what side Neil Doak puts out, Pitman knows it will be tough to stop a resurgent Ulster.

He said: "Ulster are studded with Ireland internationals. Tommy Bowe scored against us last week and is always a threat.

"You have guys like Rory Best there also - individually they are great but they always stick together and play their way which makes them a very good team.

"We knew we weren't at the races last week, we had a game-plan and I don't think we executed it to our full potential.

"I'm hurting and we're hurting as a team so there are a few things to put right this week.

"We can definitely turn things around this weekend. A few missed line-outs, a few silly penalties and the yellow cards cost us and you can't afford to do that against a team like Ulster, especially at their home."

Leicester Tigers home win against European champions Toulon blew pool three wide open.

Ulster are just three points off the summit after their 24-9 triumph at the Kingspan Stadium and will put themselves right back in the quarter-final picture if they claim a bonus-point win at the site of their 32-32 draw on the opening day of the season.

But Pitman is hoping a victory can breathe life into the Scarlets campaign, which has been derailed since their home victory over Leicester in round two.

He said: "With a bit of luck we can get through but all we can do is work hard and put the bad things right.

"But we need to be a lot more clinical and a lot more mature because you don't get a second bite of the cherry in Europe."

Conor Murray has urged Munster to be smarter and stronger on their revenge mission in Clermont.

The French side dented the Munstermen's proud record at Thomond Park last weekend and the Irish scrum-half found himself singled out for treatment.

"It could have been a great night in Thomond but we didn't live up to expectations, we didn't perform to the level we know we can.," Murray admitted. It would make it extra-sweet this weekend if we went down there, performed and got the win.

"I know we're capable of doing it. It's going to be a physical battle. We need to perform ourselves to give us a chance. And we aim to do that."

Belfast Telegraph

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