Show me that warrior spirit, says Anscombe
Mark Anscombe has called on his Ulster players to produce a re-run of the second-half performance they served up against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun in mid-October.
With the sides meeting again at Ravenhill on Friday night (8pm), New Zealander Anscombe is demanding a display as good as Ulster’s post-interval showing in Glasgow on October 19 when they won 19-8 after leading 6-3 at the break.
On this occasion, though, he wants 80 minutes of that quality rather than 40.
“We know that what we did in the second half against Glasgow, we have to do in both halves this time, otherwise they’ll trip us up,” he told the Belfast Telegraph in an exclusive interview.
“That was one of our best second halves of the season.
“I was really proud of the boys the way we shut them down and won that game that night.
“It was an outstanding performance.
“That’s what we’ll have to do again to beat them. We had to be at our best to shut them out that night and anything less than that won’t be enough.
“We saw what happened against Northampton,” he warned. “We weren’t up for that and we got turned around.
“Intensity is all-important, but you’ve got to have the quality of possession.
“In the wins we’ve had in the past few weeks, the common thing — the hallmark of the performance — has been the quality of our set-piece ball.
“Like all games at whatever level — from Rabo to Heineken Cup to international rugby — the set-piece and forward dominance is what gives you the platform to build pressure and win games,” he added.
And in recognition of the Scots’ quality he warned: “Glasgow have a great pack of forwards. We respect them immensely and we know that anything less than our very, very best won’t be good enough.”
Meanwhile, 21-year-old stand-off Paddy Jackson has forfeited the kicking duties to his half-back partner Ruan Pienaar.
With 49 to his credit, Jackson is Ulster’s leading points scorer in this season’s Heineken Cup competition.
Indeed, he is fourth overall with only Clermont’s Morgan Parra (64), Harlequins’ Ben Boitca and Exeter Chiefs’ Ulster born-and-bred Gareth Steenson (both 50) more prolific.
Jackson missed two of his first three efforts in the opening 25 minutes of the pre-Christmas PRO12 inter-pro against Leinster, whereupon the South African took over and went on to land four from five off the tee.
Both were rested against Munster and when the pair resumed at the weekend against Scarlets, again Pienaar was the man entrusted with the responsibility. He responded by nailing a perfect six out of six.
Asked if Pienaar now is Ulster’s first-choice kicker, Anscombe hesitated for a moment before replying: “Yes, I suppose he is.
“He’ll be doing the kicking for the next short period of time anyway.”