Next five weeks is like cup tie rugby says Ulster coachAnscombe

Ulster coach Mark Anscombe and Connacht coach Pat Lam
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe and Connacht coach Pat Lam

Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe is targeting RaboDirect PRO12 success as the perfect tonic for a heartbreaking European Cup exit after Connacht were convincingly put to the sword at Ravenhill.

The Irish Province exited the European Cup at the quarter-final stage to Saracens for the second season in a row, although this year’s defeat was particularly galling as in spite of playing with 14 men for almost all of the clash at Ravenhill they couldn’t quite squeeze out a win, losing 17-15.

And Connacht bore the brunt of Ulster’s frustration as Anscombe’s men ran in eight tries in a thumping 58-12 victory.

“You watch these games and you look at who you want to win,” he said. “Am I happy that Ospreys beat Leinster? I don’t know; it allows us to catch Leinster but it keeps Ospreys in the picture.

“At the end of the day, if we’re honest to ourselves, and we’d be lying if we said differently, we’d like to have a home semi-final. But to do that we at least have to win two out of our last three.

“Munster have got Glasgow and if that goes Glasgow’s way we’re (still) second. And then we’ve got Leinster and if we win that we’re first.

“So it is achievable and that’s what we’ve got to do. A lot of people said (after Ulster’s European Cup exit), ‘What’s to go for now?’ Well, the season started in September and it was our goal to be successful in this competition.

“As a group, we’re not going to be together ever again in four or five weeks time, so let’s get back up. We’ve talked, we believe we’re good enough, so let’s show we are and get something from it.

“That was a pretty good response out there. Now we’ve got to rest up, look at our injury total and hopefully bounce back against Glasgow next week.

“It doesn’t get any tougher, does it? It’s like playing a European Cup quarter-final for the next five weeks!”