Belfast Telegraph

Magners League: Italians could get Court in the act

By Niall Crozier

Right now Tom Court could be forgiven for having concerns other than tomorrow night’s Ulster versus Benetton Treviso clash on his mind.

The big Ireland prop hails from Queensland, half which, in his words, “is under water at the minute”.

“It goes from one extreme to the other there,” laments the gentle giant who has family and friends in the north-east Australian state.

“They’ve had a lot of problems with drought in the past 10 years and now they’re being flooded. In Queensland when it rains it pours, very literally.”

Having seen Ulster’s figurative defensive dam blown wide open Barnes Wallace-style, in the past two outings, witness the concession of seven tries, Court is conscious of the need to stop the flow against in tomorrow night’s Ravenhill clash (Live on BBC NI, 7.05pm).

Talking to him, one senses that Benetton Treviso are going to have to work pretty hard for any scores tomorrow night.

Having played no part in Ulster’s 30-13 home defeat by Leinster on December 27 and only involved in the second half of the 35-10 reversal at Munster’s hands on New Year’s Day at Thomond Park, Court had a chance to observe what went on.

Now there is steel in his eyes as he says: “The more disappointing of the two was the Leinster game when Ulster were pretty much blown away.

“The Munster game was a lot more promising. There was a lot more commitment there from the young guys but in the end we still shipped four tries.

“That’s a lot of points against us in the past couple of weeks so we know we have to knuckle down on Friday night and get things back in place.

“We’re back at home, we’ve got all the comforts of being in Belfast and playing at Ravenhill where we’ll have the crowd behind us so there can be no excuses.

“Realistically we must win. There’s no two ways about it — this is a game we have to win.”

He is glad to be facing Treviso, believing that their style is comparable to that of Biarritz who will provide Ulster’s opposition the following week in a crucial Heineken Cup tie.

“There are a lot of similarities, they’re both very physical,” he points out. Treviso have a big strong pack and a lot of good backs who are very dangerous so this will be a good test for us.

“But once we get our defence right and get back to playing the sort of free-flowing rugby we prefer, it becomes a matter of taking the opportunities we create and showing a little more composure at times when we are under a bit of pressure.

“Obviously there are going to be times when opponents have purple patches and have a real go at us. When that happens it’s about us holding out, our defence withstanding the pressure and then, when we get opportunities, taking them and getting points on the board. In the last four or five games we have created opportunities without always taking them. That’s been our main problem, I

think. It’s important to get points on the board because that means, when the other team come back at us, we’ve got something to go up against. If we waste chances and then let our opponents score, we’re behind. We can’t allow that to go on happening. Hopefully we can start to change it round a little this week.”

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