Paddy Wallace is feeling positive about Ulster’s attitude as they prepare for Friday night’s Magners League tete-a-tete with Connacht in Galway.
Admitting that the mood in Ulster dressing room following Friday night’s 16-13 Ravenhill defeat by Magners League leaders, Edinburgh, had been “one of frustration and disappointment” he said there was a real desire to bounce back.
“Despite the loss we can take a lot of positives from the Edinburgh game. We played enough rugby to have won the match, particularly in the first-half, so we’ll take the positives and hopefully learn from it,” said Wallace.
“We know we need to make the most of opportunities as they arise and that when games get close, like Friday night, we know we need to play a bit smarter.
“The Edinburgh game wasn’t a step back, for although obviously we’re disappointed that we lost we know we had the beating of Edinburgh.
“So unlike when we lost to the Dragons because we didn’t perform our disappointment this time came from not having won after playing well.”
Wallace entered the fray as a 48th minute replacement for out half, Ian Humphreys and his contribution included having missed a drop goal opportunity followed by a yellow card for a foul tackle on Mike Blair.
The resultant penalty brought Edinburgh back to within three points at 13-10 and shortly before Wallace returned the Scots equalised from another penalty by Chris Paterson who finished the night with a perfect three out of three kicks on target.
At this stage, Ulster’s goal-kicking is not of that calibre. Wallace, Humphreys, fellow-fly half Niall O’Connor and full back Clinton Schifcofske are the men entrusted with the responsibility. Wallace said it is a problem of which they are aware and are working hard to solve.
“Every week the goal-kickers put in sessions. Mark Tainton is coming over from England once a week to do a session with me, so the practice and preparation is being done,” he said.
“There are a few goal-kickers in our squad and it’s up to the coaches who they go with for that role.”
Of the four kickers, O’Connor is the one who misses out for this weekend’s trek to Connacht, just as he did against Edinburgh last weekend.
Indeed, there are only two changes to last week’s panel.
Fit-again Dan Tuohy returns to the 24-strong squad. His restoration has seen Timaitu Horua being shunted out to make room and is likely to result in Neil McComb losing his starting place as Ed O’Donoghue’s partner in the all-important engine room.
Behind the pack, back-up scrum half Cillian Willis — a 74th minute replacement for winger Timoci Nagusa last Friday night — misses out.
On this occasion Paul Marshall has been given the nod, though Isaac Boss is likely to line out at number nine with the 24-year-old Belfast Harlequins scrum half and former Ulster under-21 captain starting on the bench.
FORWARDS: N Brady, B Botha, B Young, E O'Donoghue, A Kyriacou, D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, S Ferris, W Faloon, T Anderson, N McComb , T Court, D Fitzpatrick.
BACKS: T Nagusa, D Cave, A Trimble, S Danielli, I Whitten, P Marshall, I Boss, I Humphreys, P Wallace, C Schifcofske.