Ulster look at positives ahead of Leeds' Ravenhill visit
Ulster assistant coach Jeremy Davidson is hoping Ulster can pick up their first pre-season win when Leeds visit Ravenhill.
Ulster's young and experimental side went down 24-0 to Harlequins at the Stoop in London on Saturday against the English team which was packed full of internationals and Davidson believed, despite the scoreline, there were some positives that could be taken out of the game.
England duo Danny Care and Ugo Moyne crossed in the first half with former All Black Nick Evans adding seven points with the boot to give Quins a 17-0 half time lead.
Prop Joe Marlet got a late converted try to wrap up the victory.
“There was some good defence from a young side and our workrate was good,” said Davidson. “I felt we weren't helped at the scrum by the French referee but our lineout was good and we were playing against a Quins side that play a good brand of rugby and we had to soak up a lot of pressure.
“We were looking to use all the squad and we have seen all the players that are available. The Irish players weren't available against Quins and we were playing against first rate opposition and we hope to take a step further against Leeds.”
Ulster created a few chances but were unable to breach the Quins defence and Davidson wants to see an improvement.
“We got on their lines a couple times and we need to get that clinical edge. When we get into those positions we have to finish them off and hopefully we can start doing it at home to Leeds on Thursday night,” he commented.
Coach Brian McLaughlin used the Viadana game last season to blood some of his younger players and he did the same at the Stoop and Davidson feels it's important to expose them at that level.
“It was good to see Michael Heaney, Craig Gilroy, David McIlwane and Paul Kyrayiannis get their first caps for Ulster,” continued Davidson.
“Players like Adam Macklin and Nevin Spence are up and coming and playing against a full strength Harlequins team will be a learning curve in their career.”
Ulster have one more game before their Magners League opener against the Ospreys and will be looking for a win.
Leeds lost 13-12 on their last visit to Ravenhill in 2007 and have lost all three pre-season games so far and with Ulster likely to filter in some of their Irish players back into action Davidson is looking forward to the game.
“We should have a more settled squad for the game against Leeds. We want to make Ravenhill a fortress this season and we can start by winning on Thursday night,” concluded Davidson.