Tyrone Howe: Ulster have talent and character to make it back-to-back wins
As Ulster look ahead to the return fixture against Saints, it is clear that their victory last Friday is only as good as the result this weekend.
Ulster remain unbeaten, first and foremost because of the players’ talent but along this season’s journey, there have already been plenty of occasions when those same players have had to delve deep into the well of resilience. There are no question marks over the team’s character, but one must still guard against any element of complacency.
Make no mistake, Northampton Saints’ pride has been severely dented, and that in itself makes them a far more dangerous prospect this weekend.
They cannot and will not play as badly as that again.
Their big players will want to make sure that they are not put in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons for a second successive game.
Tom Wood does not get a man of the match award against the All Blacks 10 days ago to suddenly become a poor player.
He will drive Saints on to be far more competitive in the quest for revenge and self-respect.
We may well see a return by halfbacks Lee Dickson and Stephen Myler who will come up with a slightly different gameplan.
Dylan Hartley (pictured) will probably be missing due to his citing in last week’s game and this certainly aids Ulster’s attempt to get the upper hand once again in the scrums.
Nevertheless, it is a wounded Saints side who have nothing to lose and all to gain.
What is guaranteed is another physical battle and Ulster have to try to conjure up a similar level of intensity.
This will be a challenge and I expect the game to be closer, but character and talent will combine once again to bring Ulster through.
It is another opportunity for players and supporters to come together again in pursuit of further European glory.