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Andrew Trimble: Ulster have a lot to sort out in training ahead of PRO12 game with Zebre

By Michael Sadlier

Andrew Trimble has admitted that Ulster have a lot rough edges to iron out on the training ground ahead of Friday night's first home PRO12 clash when Zebre provide the opposition (kick-off 7.35pm).

The Ireland winger, who turns 30 next month, came on as a replacement in Saturday's dramatic opener at the Scarlets and scored the crucial final minute try when he dashed over the line and ran round as close to the posts as possible to allow Ian Humphreys an easier conversion which ultimately tied the scores at 32-32 in what had been a storming encounter.

"We've a lot to work on and we're going to get a hard time (from the coaches) this week to make sure we're ready for Friday night," Trimble said.

Though Ulster showed great character to grapple their way back into the match after trailing 32-18 with just over a quarter of the game remaining, the concession of four tries to the west Wales side – with three of those touchdowns coming in the opening half – will definitely not have been to interim coach Less Kiss's liking, particularly as the Ireland assistant coach is known for his defensive expertise.

"We showed a lot of good stuff and played a lot of good rugby (against the Scarlets), said Trimble, "but maybe defensively we just let ourselves down a little bit and didn't quite get off the line to make the impacts.

"They had big ball-carriers in their starting side and a heavy pack, and we had to meet them up front and I think we probably let ourselves down a little that way," he added of the difficulty Ulster experienced in the collisions where rampaging No8 Rory Pitman made his presence felt for the home side.

Still, Ulster had their own wrecking ball to deploy and, once Nick Williams was sprung from the bench, Kiss's side began to get some quality go-forward ball and throw their weight around where, and when, it mattered.

"Fortunately Nick had a massive impact and carried so well," Trimble said, before addressing his own last-gasp try which Williams also had a hand in helping create off the back of a scrum.

"I managed at the end to get over the line and for the last 25 minutes or so and I've never run so much in my life," the winger admitted.

"The pace was through the roof and it was end-to-end stuff. I'm just pretty happy that we got back into it after being that far down," he added.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear if Jared Payne will be available to play in Friday night's game following a bang he received to his hip joint at the Parc y Scarlets.

The 28-year-old Kiwi was due to have been scanned yesterday to ascertain the extent of any damage done to his hip which forced him out of the action in the second half last Saturday, when Ulster were trailing 32-18.

Any injury to Payne will cause particular anxiety for both Ulster, and indeed Ireland as, thanks to the Kiwi securing Irish qualification this season, there has been considerable speculation aired that he could be part of Joe Schmidt's plans to fill outside centre for the autumn internationals.

Should Payne not make it then Darren Cave, if fit, would be expected to regain his place against Zebre while skipper Rory Best is thought likely to make his first start of the season on Friday night.

It remained unclear if Paddy Jackson and Tommy Bowe would also be available while it is believed that Iain Henderson may be facing hip surgery to sort out an ongoing issue early in the season.

Belfast Telegraph


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