Paddy Jackson reflects on Ulster's defeat to Saracens. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
playoff hopes

'After last week, the guys want to prove a point' - Ulster's Robbie Diack

The back-row wants to put Dragons to the sword and confirm a Pro12 semi-final slot.

ROBBIE DIACK IS hurting and he doesn’t attempt to hide it.

The disappointment of losing last weekend’s Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Saracens is still large in his mind – and in the minds of his team-mates, almost a week after the game at Twickenham.

“After last week, the guys want to prove a point and if we could have played again on Tuesday or Wednesday, we would have,” said Diack.

“We want to get on the field and put things right and this game against the Dragons couldn’t have come soon enough. The team is extremely keen to get out there, especially at Ravenhill in front of a home crowd and to show how well we can really play rugby.”

Over the past week, countless analysts, pundits and rugby writers have attempted to dissect the quarter-final and to look for reasons for Ulster’s defeat.

Some have pointed to the injuries that the Ulster squad has suffered this season as a reason for the defeat, others have highlighted the ruthless efficiency with which Saracens play. For Diack, the loss was down to a combination of factors.

He said, “I think we are disappointed in how we played and I think Saracens were very good.

We knew what they were going to throw at us and we weren’t as clinical as we have been in the past, which is disappointing. The good thing is that we have the Pro12 to look forward to. We are still in contention for that, we are still in the top four and we can still have a home semi-final. “

Pro12 push

Just as the disappointment is obvious, so is that determination of the Ulster squad to make amends for the defeat. While the Heineken Cup dream is over for another season, Ulster are well placed to secure a league play-off place and to compete for the overall title.

“Everyone is focusing on the Dragons now,” said Robbie, now in his fifth season with the province.

“We know what they are going to throw at us. It is exciting going into these last three games. There is everything to play for now and we would hate to finish off the season, without making a play off. We know what we need to achieve and that is to finish in the top four of the table.”

Diack breaches the Leinster defence at the RDS. (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

Diack’s form in the back row has led to several Ireland call-ups and training sessions at Carton House. Getting in ahead of current Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip is not an easy ask but the 27-year-old is encouraged to know he is on the international radar.

His cause will have been aided by a try he scored out wide against Leinster, two weeks ago, that ended an unwanted, 13-year record of away defeats to the Blues.

“My confidence is high this season,” he said. “I have had time to improve on areas that I have needed to improve on. Hopefully this week I will be able to get some game time and get another opportunity to play well.”

With Ulster, he adds, there is no room for average performances.

*Extracts taken from tonight’s Ulster v Dragons match programme, with thanks to @UlsterRugby

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