PRO12: Paul Marshall calls for more composure from Ulster ahead of Scarlets test

Ulster scrumhalf Paul Marshall
Ulster scrumhalf Paul Marshall

Ulster have taken 22 points from their last six games which has seen Les Kiss’ side rise to the top of the Guinness PRO12 table.

But the wins over NG Dragons (17-15) and Glasgow Warriors (13-10) at Kingspan Stadium have been earned with ‘ugly’ performances.

Scrumhalf Paul Marshall accepts the past few weeks have been good in terms of winning – they did secure a try scoring bonus point away to Treviso – but the performances have not been quite what they would have wanted.

“We kind of felt dejected after the game (Glasgow) purely in terms that we thought we left a lot of points out there,” he said.

“You look back at the game and the opportunities we had to score tries and we were so close on a couple of occasions we could have come away with a bonus point win.

“I think that is why we were a bit frustrated, but to be fair to Glasgow they scrambled unbelievably hard in defence and they will be delighted to have curtailed a few of our chances.

“But we had lots of opportunities to put them away.”

He added: “I don’t think we are panicking, I think it is just more a case of composure and just finishing off opportunities.

“Earlier on in the season we maybe struggled to get pressure in the green zone but now we are getting there a lot of times and it is a matter of capitalising on those chances.

“With the way the league is now with one point separating first and fourth, bonus points further down the line could make a big difference and we felt that we have maybe played better than maybe our results have showed in the last couple of weeks.”

In spite of a substantial injury list and international call-ups Ulster have soared to the top of the table and Marshall feels it’s due to a stronger squad.

“We have had a few big injuries this year and we’ve had a few away and from our point of view the more that are away with Ireland the better from a success point of view for Ulster,

“The guys that have come in over the past few weeks have done very well, the likes of Rory Scholes did very well when he got an opportunity and Jacob Stockdale has come in and done well on the wing, Sean Reidy has done fantastically well in Chris Henry’s absence.

“We have had guys who have come in and put their hands up and are putting pressure on the so called more regular players to make sure they can get their places back and that is healthy for a squad.”

Now that they have reached the summit Marshall wants to stay there.

“Whoever is at the top everybody wants to knock them off and that has been our goal when we’re not up there.

“We’re now going to be targeted by everybody and they’ll want to knock us off the perch so it is up to us to maintain that.

“It’s very tight with the top four and there is maybe a small gap opening up but when you look at the games we have left we have to play a lot of the so called top sides who are pushing for the top four slot so it is going to be very competitive through to the end of the season.”

The Scarlets arrive at the Kingspan on Sunday a point and three places behind Kiss’ side and are looking to do the double over Ulster for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

“I think it was the only game so far this season that we didn’t get anything from we gave away a penalty right at the end when we were trying to play catch up they ended up winning 22-12 and we were disappointed to come away with nothing,” said Marshall.

“They started the season flying winning eight or nine games on the bounce.

“We have had a couple of wins in a row and we know it will be a tough game but we can take confidence from grinding out results in the last number of weeks.

“I think the Scarlets have improved this year, early on in the season they went to Glasgow and won which is a tough thing to do so their away from has been better and they are up there like we are and they will be bringing their A game. It’s going to be tough up front and it is going to be tough behind as they have got some exciting backs like Regan King and DTH van der Merwe who have played a lot of rugby at a high level and can cause you damage.”