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Fed-up Henry keen to bring Ulster's title pain to an end

By Jonathan Bradley

After admitting he is still haunted by his side's recent near misses, Chris Henry says Ulster are determined to secure the PRO12 title at Murrayfield later this month.

The province booked their place in the semi-finals for the fourth season in a row with Saturday's 46-26 win over Ospreys, with Henry himself securing the bonus-point try, but no silverware has been brought home to the Kingspan Stadium since 2006's Celtic League title.

With Henry one of the squad's senior members, he has been party to plenty of knock-out rugby heartbreak in the past five years but is out to pen a different narrative this season.

"Every year we say we'll learn from this, that we'll move forward, and for me who has been there for a while it is frustrating to keep on talking like this," said Henry. "We've given ourselves another chance. As a team, we know it's sitting there for us and we have to go out and grab it."

Just as they did a year ago, Ulster will travel to the PRO12's table-toppers in the last four - Glasgow last season and Leinster next Friday - with Henry hoping a win this time around can erase the painful memory of last season's conclusion.

Having led for much of the game at Scotstoun, Ulster capitulated in the final minutes with a last-gasp score seeing Gregor Townsend's men through to a final which was played on the province's home patch.

No matter what happens in the RDS 10 days from now, the 31-year-old, who has recaptured his best form in recent weeks, wants to make sure he and his team-mates return from Dublin with no cause to rue another missed opportunity.

"We're playing against a quality team but we'll be desperate to go out and have no regrets," said the Malone man. "The semi-final against Glasgow, that's still one that haunts me and it will forever. We should have won. Now we're in that same position where we're away from home.

"It's a massive advantage being at home, and Leinster will know that, but the Ulster fans will be out in force and we can give a good showing."

The fixture will be a reverse of the contest two weeks ago when Les Kiss' men dominated the scoreboard to the tune of a 30-6 win but Henry admits that Leinster have had far better of the rivalry in recent years.

Ulster's season has been ended by knock-out defeat to Leinster in all but one season since 2011 - last year's loss to Glasgow the exception - with Henry believing it's time his team came out on the right side of the big games.

"Every time you play (another) province, people say you know them inside out and that is the case," he said. "There's a lot at stake for both teams. Leinster have been in finals, they've won big games but we've won down there before.

"I reckon it'll be a very close game but we just need to do our homework and stick to the processes because that's what's been working for us."

With Ulster having won four in a row - their last defeat coming against Glasgow at the end of March - they have found real momentum in recent weeks but Henry is wary that Leinster will again time their run to the end of season well.

Having lost twice in March, and after enduring a campaign to forget in Europe, the four-time PRO12 champions won three of their last four to top the table ahead of Pat Lam's Connacht by virtue of games won.

"I think ourselves and Leinster are coming into form now," the 24-times capped international said. "We're desperate to win something. Knock-out rugby, we've had a bit of experience but haven't been able to finish through with it.

"We need cool heads to go with that intensity and physicality. They're all boxes that have to be ticked but I'm sure it'll be a cracking game of rugby and I'm itching to go already."

Belfast Telegraph

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