We know how to do the job on Treviso, says Ulster assistant coach Bell
EVEN though the Six Nations is clearly the topping the agenda come Friday and Saturday, the PRO12 is also in action with most of the games on Sunday when Ulster are due at Treviso.
Mark Anscombe's side go into the game – which will be the fourth and final time in all competitions that the sides have met this campaign with Ulster having convincingly won all three so far with try bonuses – off the back of last week's postponed clash with the Scarlets and with a pressing need to rack up another victory in their bid to stay on course to make the league's play-offs.
Now in fifth with a game in hand, Ulster know that a positive result has to be delivered on Sunday prior to their five-day lead-in to hosting the Dragons on Friday, at a hopefully dried out Ravenhill, especially so as Glasgow – currently in fourth – have two games to make up.
However, it appears that Anscombe's squad will be travelling to Treviso – they are due to fly out on Saturday and will be hoping for better weather than the fog-laden Heineken Cup game they played there last December – without Tommy Bowe who has worryingly still not recovered from the groin muscle tear he picked up playing for Ireland last November.
"He is training and doing skills stuff with us," assistant coach Jonny Bell said.
"He's coming on well. I think it's just the nature of his injury, it's about getting him right and getting him back and back to stay and not in and out again," he added.
As to the possibility of getting players released from Ireland camp, and in particular the chances of Luke Marshall and Iain Henderson being made available by not making Joe Schmidt's final cut, Bell could offer little insight as to the Ireland coach's thinking.
"Whoever we get back, if anyone, we'll have a little bit of time to blend them in as if they're coming they'll back Thursday or Friday and we don't have the game until the Sunday," Bell said.
Should Henderson not return, then the fit-gain Lewis Stevenson is likely to start alongside Johann Muller, while if Marshall is retained by Schmidt, the likelihood would be a starting Ulster midfield of Darren Cave at inside centre and Jared Payne at 13 – the same partnership as the Ospreys game – especially so with neither Paddy Wallace or Chris Farrell ready to stake a claim to the inside centre berth.
And with Michael Allen and Craig Gilroy the likely wingers, Ricky Andrew could be due another run at full-back if Payne is required for midfield duties.
Ulster will travel to northern Italy with justifiable confidence they can manage another win over the 10th-placed Italians who have only won three times in this season's PRO12 and were humiliatingly turned over at the Ospreys 75-7 last Sunday.
Even so, Bell – who is currently in contract negotiations with Ulster regarding next season – remains understandably cautious when presented with any suggestion this should be a straightforward and high scoring Ulster victory.
"We clearly know what they offer," he said.
"The last time was a bit of a blip for them I think and is not a true reflection of where Treviso are and they will be back at their home ground and will not want that (scoreline) to happen again.
"However, we know how to beat them, we know what they bring and we know what we have to do.
"We've got to get ourselves in the right place," Bell added though, with Ulster only having lost once in their last 10 games in all competitions, any other outcome other than a win will be quite some shock.