Harrison warns Ulster
Published 10/04/2008 | 08:38
Australian lock Justin Harrison has told his Ulster colleagues not to think tomorrow's clash with Connacht is a season defining game.
The sides are locked in a battle for Ireland's third Heineken Cup spot, Ulster are four points clear of the western province at the bottom of the table but a win won't settle anything.
"The danger is to think that our season starts and ends with the Connacht match on Friday, the importance of it is paramount," stated Harrison.
"It's a home game and it's an opportunity for us to right some of the wrongs that occurred against the Ospreys. For 60 minutes we were a competitive side and 15-7 down - with 20 minutes to go we were well in the match but our concentration let us down.
"This week has been about focusing on what is important and the important thing for us is to beat Connacht at home in front of a crowd that supports us and to put in a performance that merits a good victory."
Ulster have had a player sin binned in their last two games and the penalty count against the Ospreys was high. Harrison admits they have got to get their discipline right but is hoping to get a helping hand from the referee.
"Against Munster we missed 30 tackles, against the Ospreys we made some very good tackles and didn't miss very many but allowed them to stay in the game with our penalty count," he admitted.
"It's that rollercoaster ride in discipline that we have to rectify and this week has been about making sure we are in a good position to make tackles and free up the break down so we can play rugby.
"The problem with the Magners League is the break down is not being refereed properly, the touch judges aren't refereeing the offside line or linking with the referee in the middle like they should be.
"For us it will be about protecting them physically and let the referee follow the rule book and hopefully it will be a clean game."
Ulster have already beaten Connacht in the league this year but were made to fight all the way at the Sportsground and Harrison is expecting another tough night in the trenches.
"There is no doubt Connacht have a very strong forward pack, every year I've played them it has been a huge challenge," he added. "Andrew Farrelly runs the lineout very well and their set piece is very strong. They have an out-half in Tim Donnelly that gets them moving and he doesn't over play his hand, he plays safe and secure rugby.
"We have to make sure we keep our game plan effective and it is as simple as executing the basics well."
"The inter-provincial games in Ireland attract an intensity that often lifts teams to match sides that are above them in the table. Connacht always play hard and abrasive and they're always in the match with 10 minutes to go, there are not a side that won't lie down."