Business as usual in lead up to Euro tie insists Ulster skipper Muller

Darren Cave runs in to score a try for Ulster against Cardiff
Darren Cave runs in to score a try for Ulster against Cardiff

Ulster skipper, Johann Muller, says the squad will do exactly what they had planned to in their preparation for this weekend’s Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Saracens.

The Irish Province suffered what was a surprise 28-23 reverse in the Arms Park on Saturday evening against Cardiff Blues.

It was more a surprise given the form of the two clubs in the RaboDirect PRO12 coupled with the fact they also sit at opposite ends of the table.

Ulster produced one of their worst first half performances in some time to trail 22-5, but then rallied in the second half and picked up a losing bonus point which had seemed unlikely at the interval.

But with a European quarter-final tie looming against English Premiership leaders, Saracens, it was not the ideal outcome for Ulster as they prepare to welcome Mark McCall’s side to Ravenhill on Saturday evening.

“It was certainly not the result we wanted or expected at this stage of the season,” said Muller.

“While it is frustrating, it was also extremely disappointing, particularly that first half. It was probably the worst 40 minutes in three years.

“I think it just came down to discipline. We gave away nine penalties in the first half and it does not matter who you are playing, if you concede that number of penalties you are always going to struggle.

“We also got a yellow card and they scored a lot of points during that period.”

However, Muller added: “But credit to the boys for coming back in the second half, sticking it out and we probably could have come away with a win at one point.”

While a win would have given Ulster the right momentum and confidence going into this week’s game against Saracens, Muller said the loss did not change the way they would do things.

“We have to take this defeat on the chin. It obviously was not good and next week was probably in the back of the minds.

“We maybe approached this game in the wrong frame of mind to be honest and that is something you can expect and understand.

“But we will not do anything differently in the way we prepare for the Saracens game.

“If you could have scripted a game before Saracens, then this was probably what you wanted because the loss is a massive wake up call for everyone.

“Seven days in rugby is a long, long time and I think the build-up after this loss will being more intensity than ever from the squad ahead of the game on Saturday.”

Cardiff Blues coach Dale McIntosh hailed his players for their much improved performance which ended a run of five straight defeats.

“That performance was the opposite of the Ospreys game. There was heart, there was passion and there was accuracy,” said McIntosh.

“We needed that game to get salvation. We know that last week we did an injustice to ourselves, to the region and we did some soul searching in the week to put it right.

“We made some strides towards that. We have spoken the truth this week.”