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Dawson is predicting a rough ride

By Gavin Mairs

Kieron Dawson's honesty off the pitch has always been a reflective of his work ethic on it.

It is not yet clear whether the former London Irish star, who is approaching the end of his current two-year deal, will have a part to play in the new coach's plans for next season.

But with miles still left on his clock, and the priceless mentoring role he is playing in the development of openside star-in-the-making David Pollock, he surely has more to offer his province.

Dawson's more immediate concern however is playing his part in stopping the Leinster machine exacting revenge for their humiliating defeat away to Edinburgh, which has left their Heineken Cup campaign still-born, when Ulster travel to the RDS for the Magners League clash on Boxing Day. The oldest fixture in the Irish provincial calendar has the added spice of being a top verses bottom clash with each side desperate for a result for very differing reasons.

Leinster are determined to bury their European disappointment by winning the Magners League while Ulster's goal is fired by a survival instinct - finish above Connacht to qualify for the Heineken Cup next season.

"It is a special game and there is a lot riding on it now as both of us are out of our respective Heineken Cup pools," said Dawson.

"It will be a ding-dong battle and a game we will both want to win although I think we are probably a bit more desperate than they are."

Seemingly ever the enigma, Leinster, having finally assembled a pack to cause serious damage, their star-studded backline failed to fire in the dismal surrender to Edinburgh.

Dawson is in no doubt that a major part of the problem is a hangover from Ireland's atrocious World Cup campaign.

In something of a dig at the Genesis Report, commissioned by the IRFU to get to the root of the problem, which has widely been dismissed as a white wash exercise, Dawson said: "Despite what people say... despite what was published last week, I think the World Cup has been damaging for Irish rugby.

"Leinster and Ulster have gone out of the European Cup early and without even much of a contest. It has been as difficult for them as.

" I don't know if it is a confidence issue or if guys are sick of rugby but it hasn't gone well for the two provinces and Munster are by no means guaranteed to go through either.

"If they don't, it will be the first time in a long time that Ireland haven't had a side in the quarter-finals of the European Cup."

The 16-16 draw against Michael Cheika's side at Ravenhill has given Ulster hope of creating an upset at the RDS on Boxing Day. "We let them get off to a good start but it is well-documented about the come-back that we had," added Dawson.

"The pack is confident that we can take them on up front and if we can stop their much-vaunted pretty boys in the backline - cut off their water and lights - then we have got a good chance.

" What we have learned from the Ravenhill game is that we played far too much rugby in the wrong areas of the pitch. And the way Steve Williams has got the team playing now we are trying to play a fast, high-tempo game which will suit us and make it difficult for their drift defence."

Belfast Telegraph


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