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Underdogs: Ulster must be 'on the money' to beat Leinster

With Pro12 hopes hanging by a thread, Ulster know their very best is required in Ravenhill.

One coin to rule them all.
One coin to rule them all.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

NOT QUITE THE weight of the world, but plenty of peer pressure heaved upon Andrew Trimble.

The Ulster wing was left with the big responsibility of calling the coin-toss which would determine whether or not Ulster can look forward to enjoying the confines of the Aviva’s home dressing room.

‘If you win the toss, it’s fine.” Grinned the winger, wearing his match jersey for the pitch-side photocall,  ”But if you lose, you just get ripped out by all the boys.

“I don’t know If I could have coped with all the abuse I got. With all the cameras there, there was no hiding the fact that it was my fault that we’re not in the hot-tub after the game.”

Team spirit is strong around the northern province these days, and rightly so.

But the one slight blot on their landscape is the Pro12 table. Ulster lay fifth, just a point off Glasgow Warriors, but their remaining fixtures are the envy of nobody.

After this week’s home tie with Leinster, they must return to the scene of the crime – Thomond Park – where an ambush will assuredly await.

So, even though Brian McLaughlin has only lost two Pro12 games in 2012, the potential of a double or even a playoff spot would now appear to be a much longer shot than 50-50, or a the flip of a coin.

Jealous

When the teams are named later today, both McLaughlin and Joe Schmidt will veer closer to the strongest line-up after both making 12 changes last week. Further common ground shared is the that a win will be invaluable to keep momentum strong in the lead-up to a European semi-final.

The ability of Munster and Leinster to build that momentum and regularly compete for silverware at the highest level is something Ulster are hoping to replicate.

“We’re all very jealous of Munster and Leinster and their success.” Say’s back row, Chris Henry, outlining more motivation to beat Leinster than just mere Pro12 points.

“It’s our last home game of the year in Ravenhill. You put in the Brian McLaughlin factor, his last home game. You know, players leaving – there’s a lot to play for and the Rabo’s still not out of our hands, if we get a win here then we’re right back up there in the mix, depending on other results aswell.

“Edinburgh’s great, (but that is)  for next week. At the moment the only thing that matters is hopefully getting a win on Friday night. Because we’ve got a massive crowd coming to watch us aswell. Every Friday night it’s always a big occasion.”

You’ll find little bad blood between these sides, little to no chance of any shots been fired across the bow prior to kick off. Many of these players know eachother too well to have anything less than the utmost respect for one another.

“Leinster, if you’ve watched them lately are playing some incredible rugby.” Gushed Henry, mirroring the flattery being sent from Dublin.

“They’re an awesome team, a really exciting team and it’s gonna be really tough to break them down. We’ve gotta be on the money.

“I think any team that’s gonna beat Leinster at the moment are gonna have to play the best rugby on the day and maybe get a little bit of luck aswell.”

The flick of a coin, the bounce of a ball. Little 50-50 decisions are the making of these games, so no point in sitting back worrying about it according to Trimble:

“The perfect preparation for Edinburgh is to beat Leinster, there’s nothing that will just give us that buzz.

“Again it’s the underdogs tag – who cares? Let’s just go out and see what happens.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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