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Tyrone Howe: Ulster must grab chance to end decade of European pain

the expression a “must win” game is as self-explanatory as it gets.

Over the course of a season, it tends to get used too liberally, as one’s ambition and expectation looks for success too often. The term, however, is more than apt this Saturday for Ulster’s game against Bath.

The next two weeks are absolutely essential to this season having the chance of being a breakthrough season for Ulster.

Not having qualified for the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup since winning the competition in 1999, we want and need to be playing knockout rugby.

The odds are that the Amlin Challenge Cup may be as good as it gets, but of course to qualify for any knockout stage would at least signal progression.

After an opening home defeat to Biarritz, Bath’s away bonus point victory over Aironi threw them a lifeline. Struggling in the Premiership, this competition represents an opportunity at redemption, so they will be playing for their lives. For the Ulster Branch, the main concern will be that it is a “must-play” game, with the pitch bearing the brunt of the wicked weather, but if the players make it onto the Ravenhill turf, a resounding performance would warm everyone up.

There has been a marked resurgence in Ulster’s fortunes with successive away victories against Cardiff and Treviso. This will have boosted confidence enormously and as long as the weather behaves, Bath should be in for a roasting reception.

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