Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Ulster set out to halt Connacht grand slam

Ulster head into the Lions Den when they face Connacht in the Sportsground on Friday evening in the Magners League.

Ulster number eight Robbie Diack may hail from South Africa, but in the last few days he has come to realise what Ulster can expect.

“Since the week began we have been focusing on Connacht and the threat they are.

“We know from past experience that it won’t be easy and don’t forget they have already claimed the scalps of both Munster and Leinster.

“Our aim is to finish in the top six in the Magners League and that means winning our last two games, but we’re very focused and we’re leaving nothing to chance.

“We’re very keen to finish the league on a high note and that would set us up well for next season,” said the big number eight who has come back well after breaking his foot early in the year.

He readily concedes that Ulster’s form this season has been at best inconsistent and they will have to step up on that if they are to return home from Galway with the points.

Injuries apart, Diack has thoroughly enjoyed his first season with Ulster.

Not only is he enjoying his rugby, but he has considerable game time.

“There’s no substitute for playing and it’s been very satisfying and I feel I’ve improved very much as a player, but there’s still some way to go.”

But if he has any regrets it’s Ulster’s failure to close out games that were there for the winning.

And yet he remains confident that Matt Williams’ men can put that behind them next season.

“We were in the lead so many times only to let it slip with 10 or 15 minutes left possibly down to a lack of discipline or possibly even concentration.

“The great thing about this squad is that everyone is prepared to learn with the aim of improving their contribution to the team.

“Matt (Williams) keeps reminding us about keeping our shape and our discipline and often they can make all the difference between winning and losing.”

Connacht’s lowly league position doesn’t tell the full story of their season.

Luck has rarely smiled on them, but coach Michael Bradley and his men would love nothing better than to put one over on their old rivals.

Nothing less than their best will do if Ulster are to return home victorious.

ULSTER SQUAD

Backs: Isaac Boss, Darren Cave, Simon Danielli, Rob Dewey, Ian Humphreys, Paul Marshall, Timoci Nagusa, Niall O'Connor, Clinton Schifcofske, Paddy Wallace, Ian Whitten.

Forwards: Rory Best, Brendon Botha, Nigel Brady, Ryan Caldwell, Tom Court, Robbie Diack, Ed O'Donoghue, Willie Falloon, Stephen Ferris, Chris Henry, Matt McCullough, David Pollock, Daniel Roach, Bryan Young.

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