Ulster need to move in for a quick kill: Dawson
Kieron Dawson today warned Ulster that they must kill off London Irish early or face a potential Heineken Cup backlash at the Madejski Stadium tomorrow.
The province must win their first-ever game on English soil against the Exiles in Reading (kick-off 3.30pm, live on Sky Sports 3) if they are to keep their Heineken Cup hopes alive.
Llanelli currently top pool five with nine points from two rounds, with Ulster and Toulouse both with five points and London Irish effectively out of the running for a quarter-final berth with just one point.
Dawson, who spent 10 seasons at Irish before moving back home to Ulster in the summer, knows Brian Smith's side better than anyone.
And he believes the opening quarter will be key for Ulster's chances of success.
"The first 10 or 15 minutes will be very important for us," said Dawson, who makes his first European start for his province, with Stephen Ferris ruled out for six weeks with a hand injury.
"I think they feel that if they lose this game they are dead and buried and some even may feel they are out of it anway because of the nature of our pool, having lost that home game (to Llanelli).
"But having spoken to the lads, they have turned the corner with a good home win against Northamption in the Premiership having lost heavily at home in their previous two games.
"They want to get their home form back up and they feel this is the perfect stage to put together a performance and in some ways the pressure is off if they feel they are out which is very dangerous for us$>"
Over 3,000 Ulster supporters are travelling over to Reading and with a huge number of ex-pats in the London area travelling to the game, Ulster will hope the Madejski Stadium will be turned into a 'Little Ravenhill.'
And according to Dawson, it is the perfect ground to play rugby at.
"If you go to some of the grounds like Gloucester or Bath and you are changing on top of each other, there is no room and it is a rush to get out before the match," he added.
"But the Madejski is a fantastic stadium. The hotel we are staying in is part of the complex so it is just a walk out in the morning.
"The surface is fantastic and the acoustics of the stadium mean that the noise the crowd generates is thrown back onto the pitch so the atmosphere is superb no matter how many people are in it.
"It will be great for the lads and if you can't play rugby on that surface then you shouldn't be a professional player. We should just use that. "
Ian Humphreys' recent good form for Leicester has seen him rewarded with a place in the Tigers' Heineken Cup squad as their 'additional player' allowed under new rules this season.