Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 10 October 2015

Saracens can be taken down with lessons learned from last year

Published 05/04/2013

So how do Ulster play against Saracens? Take a look at the recent Six Nations for the blueprint. England's success was based around a relatively conservative gameplan orchestrated by a nucleus of Saracens players – Owen Farrell calling the shots assisted by the strong-running of Brad Barritt.

There was a lot of chasing and fielding of kicks by both Chris Ashton and Alex Goode. In many ways England's way is not too dissimilar to the Saracens way and, done well, against most teams it is good enough to win.

But it got dismantled by Wales who edged it in the scrums, dominated the lineout, had the better backrow on the day who dominated the breakdown, and the Welsh threequarters took their chances using the full width of the pitch.

If Ulster are to emerge from Twickenham victorious, they have to adopt a similar approach and play high octane, disciplined, technically excellent and ferocious rugby. The heartening fact is that Ulster has the personnel to deliver these key facets. In a perfect world it would be better if some key men had a bit more recent rugby under their belts, but the main thing is that they are on the pitch.

When the XV look into each other's eyes in the changing-room moments before they take the pitch they will know that they have a team that can win this game.

Of course, Ulster have recent memories of Twickenham. One of the hallmarks of Ulster's success in recent seasons is they have learned from their experiences. There was a certain lack of experience shown in last year's Heineken Cup final.

Due to that game, this is no longer viable as an excuse, and the players will be keen to prove that their game and mindset has developed further.

Saracens are a quality outfit, but I do not believe that they are the best side in Europe. Ulster, on top form, have the players and armoury to win.

It will be an enormous test, one which like last weekend may go down to the final seconds, but I believe that Ulster will emerge victorious.

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