Henry’s gunning for heaven in seven
Captain Chris Henry is in no doubt; Ulster have a very good chance of achieving a top four finish in this season’s Magners League and with it a place in the play-offs.
But nor is he in any doubt as to what is required if they are to achieve that goal. With seven matches remaining they must treat each as a cup final.
Ulster return to Magners League action this weekend with a Parc y Scarlets match against Scarlets.
Having trounced the Llanelli-based Welsh side 45-24 at Ravenhill back in early October, Ulster know they have the beating of Friday night’s hosts.
That said, Scarlets at home, boosted by the availability of several of their dozen Welsh internationals, promise to be a different and more difficult proposition.
“We’ve got seven games and we have to grab as many points as possible from each of them,” Henry said.
Ulster’s last outing — at home to Newport Gwent Dragons on February 19 — ended in a draw.
It was an error-riddled display, with the four-week lay-off in deference to the RBS 6 Nations Championship clearly having taken its toll.
“Obviously we were very disappointed with that,” added Henry. “Those were points that probably got away from us as a result of a number of small things not being right.
“Our discipline wasn’t good and we made too many errors, both individually and collectively.
“We needed to be better in our finishing. We were in a position in the last 20 minutes where, if we’d got a penalty or a drop goal, we could have won it. But we didn’t finish it off.
“But,” he stressed, “at least we were in the mix to win it.
“While we started well, we didn’t keep adding on points.
“We let them get back into it. We weren’t clinical enough. We stopped playing, we allowed ourselves to become frustrated and we probably didn’t play the referee as well as we might have done.
“The penalty count against us obviously hurt us a lot and they kicked their points when we gave them opportunities.”
But having noted how well the Dragons defended and how doggedly they fought, he made a telling comparison between their style of play and that of this Friday night’s opponents.
“Scarlets like to play rugby and throw the ball out. Their off-load game is terrific, too, so that’s a big threat.
“We have to be very focused and we’re going to have to concentrate fully against them.
“We’ve talked about them but now that we’ve done that it’s time to look at our own game.
“We’ve got to go over there and approach it the same way as we did the Bath and Ospreys games.
“We can’t be scared to go for it. We have to play our own game and starve them of possession by doing that.
“The mental barrier has been crossed. We’ve shown that we can win on the road so we aren’t going over there thinking that we can’t.
“We know it’s a game we have the ability to win provided we all turn up and bring what each of us has to offer.”