Trimble planning to make Bath tremble
Ulster wing Andrew Trimble last night bared his soul in describing the magic of the Heineken Cup.
The Irish international, who goes into today’s Ravenhill showdown with Bath on the back of a top-notch autumn international series, is relishing the prospect of this latest European challenge.
“I love playing Heineken Cup matches on a Saturday afternoon at Ravenhill against a Premiership side or a French side,” Trimble said.
“I don’t know what it is, but quite often it just seems to click for us on those days and we’re just really hoping that happens again.
“Obviously it’s not just going to happen by itself, though. We have to get into this game, make sure we get our heads around it, produce a big performance and get a result.”
He exudes confidence at this stage.
“I just want to get the ball in my hands, run at people and back myself to take them on,” he continued. “There’s a lot of guys in our back line who want to do that, guys who are dangerous on the ball.
“We’re just hoping we can express ourselves a bit on the pitch. The back line has been very clinical in the past couple of matches, particularly against Cardiff.
“We really hadn’t been doing much to dominate that game, but they made a couple of mistakes and we scored a bag of tries.
“That was great to see. That’s the sort of thing the All Blacks did to Ireland; they didn’t really dominate, but when they got a chance they took it. They always have a purple patch when they score tries.
“That’s where we want to get to — really clinical, really effective at taking our chances. That’s how you win games.”
Paul Marshall, Tim Barker and Willie Faloon, each of whom made huge contributions to Ulster’s recent triumphs, were the unlucky players not to have made the starting line-up when coach Brian McLaughlin finally named his team for this afternoon’s clash (1:30pm).
Of the 15 who started in Ulster’s last game — against Benetton Treviso in Italy on November 26 — only nine begin today with scrum-half Marshall, lock Barker and openside Faloon being joined on the bench by prop Bryan Young who also has had to stand down.
Darren Cave misses out after suffering a recurrence of his hamstring injury and not having been registered for the Heineken Cup, 19-year-old wing sensation Craig Gilroy — scorer of a brace of tries in each of Ulster’s past two outings — is omitted altogether.
His place has gone to Trimble.
Ireland midfielder Paddy Wallace who, due to a lower back pain would not have played had last weekend’s postponed Magners League match with Newport Gwent Dragons gone ahead, is fit to resume at inside centre.
Cave’s number 13 jersey will be worn by Nevin Spence.
The unfortunate Marshall and Barker make way for South African pair Ruan Pienaar and Johann Muller, with the latter captaining the side in the absence of Rory Best.
Pienaar, the Springboks’ scrum-half, had a good autumn series with the touring World Cup holders while Muller is able to resume having recovered from the neck injury he suffered against Cardiff three weeks ago.
Faloon’s omission from the back row follows Stephen Ferris’ return after an excellent autumn for Ireland.
He starts at six, with Chris Henry packing down at seven and Pedrie Wannenburg switching to No.8, from where Ulster will hope to see him do real damage as a result of his ability to pick up and drive.
Bath start with English pair Shontayne Hape alongside Matt Banahan in the centre and Sam Vesty at fly-half. That means Olly Barkley is on the bench where he is joined by Nick Abendanon after Jack Cuthbert was preferred at full-back.
If he is introduced, this will be 29-year-old Barkley’s 200th appearance for Bath in whose colours he has scored 1,980 points.
ULSTER: Adam D'Arcy; Andrew Trimble, Nevin Spence, Paddy Wallace, Simon Danielli; Ian Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar; Tom Court, Nigel Brady, BJ Botha; Johann Muller (captain), Dan Tuohy; Stephen Ferris, Chris Henry, Pedrie Wannenburg.
Replacements: Andi Kyriacou, Paddy McAllister, Bryan Young, Tim Barker, Willie Faloon, Paul Marshall, Ian Whitten, David McIlwaine
BATH: Jack Cuthbert; Matt Carraro, Matt Banahan, Shontayne Hape, Tom Biggs; Sam Vesty, Michael Claassens (captain), David Flatman, Lee Mears, David Wilson; Stuart Hooper, Danny Grewcock; Andy Beattie, Lewis Moody, Simon Taylor.
Replacements: Pieter Dixon, David Barnes, Duncan Bell, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Ben Skirving, Mark McMillan, Olly Barkley, Nick Abendanon.
REFEREE: Jerome Garces.