Ian Humphreys’ performance against Bath at Ravenhill on Saturday epitomised the fine line between failure and success at the highest levels of sport.
The Ulster outhalf was the hero kicking 17 points, which included three second half penalties in a 13 minute second half period to nudge Ulster over the winning line but it could have been so different as he gave away 12 points when he threw an intercept try and his failure to deal with a high ball lead to Bath's second try.
“I think I finished the game plus five points,” joked Humphreys.
“Once you get a kick it's your own job and it's something you practice every day. You switch off to what is going on around you. They were comfortable enough kicks and I was lucky enough.”
Humphreys landed a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time to cut Bath's lead to two points and gave Ulster momentum going into the second half and the Irish ‘A’ international believed that was the turning point.
“We initially decided we were going to kick it to the corner and then we looked at the clock and just thought we'll give it a crack because it was down wind,” he said.
“I just smacked it and it gave us more confident going forward.”
With Aironi's shock win over last season's beaten finalists Biarritz, Pool 4 is wide open with the French side two points ahead of Ulster and Bath a further two points adrift in third. Last season Ulster got one monkey off their back at Bath by recording their first Heineken Cup win on English soil and they will be hoping to rewrite the history books again on Saturday at The Rec.
Ulster have failed to win back-to-back games against the same opponents since the competition started in 1995.
The closest they came was back in 2008 when they beat the Scarlets 26-16 at Ravenhill and despite having a 13-3 half time lead at Parc y Scarlet which included a Humphreys’ try and drop goal Ulster had to settle for a 16-16 draw.
Last December Ulster saw off Stade Francais at Ravenhill before having to dash from Brussels to Paris where they lost the return 29-16.
In 2007 they lost both games to the Ospreys. In 1999 as defending champions they suffered defeat twice at the hands of Llanelli but have split ever other back-to-back series and with the 28-10 win at the English Premiership side last January, Brian McLaughlin's men will be in the mood to make more history in Bath.
Chris Henry is the only injury doubt from Saturday's win when the flanker turned his ankle but it is hoped he will return.