Individual battles key in Ulster push for return to winning ways

There is an adage in rugby that if everyone wins their individual battle the team will come out on the right end of the result.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Saturday, 30th April 2022, 8:00 am

That could be very true tonight at the DAM Health Stadium as Ulster take on Edinburgh in the penultimate game of the regular United Rugby Championship season.

Both sides need points to boost their chances of hosting a home quarter-final, Ulster are sixth - two points and two places above Mike Blair’s side.

The match could be decided by the battle of the openside flankers, Ulster’s Nick Timoney and Scotland’s Hamish Watson.

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Ulster’s Nick Timoney. Pic by PA.

“They have got threats all over the park, some of their front rowers and some of their wingers, even their backs are good at the breakdown and obviously the backrow,” said Timoney. “For us it is a focus all the time every time...but when you have those key individuals like Watson who you know can do damage, you do have to sort of put a bit of a target on them.

“If you spot them in the game heading towards the breakdown you obviously have to beat them to it and it will be a big battle this week.”

Ulster have lost four of their last five games, but Timoney is staying level-headed about the situation.

“Al (O’Connor) gave me a good perspective on this a while ago, any time you lose or have some sort of thing going on you give yourself an opportunity to prove to yourself that you are good and just not on a run,” he said. “I have had plenty of times in my career where things haven’t gone well, I’ve lost all sorts of games and have been dropped from all sorts of teams.

“I think every time you have an adversity you come back and prove it just wasn’t a fluke or you just weren’t on an unlucky run, that you are actually good and when things are going wrong there are reasons for it that you can fix and that adds confidence.

“We’re not happy with the last few weeks but if you can get things back on track...I think that just adds to the confidence then that top place that we can get to is a fairer reflection of what we are.

“Everybody can have a decent run, the chance to actually prove to yourself that you are as good as you think you are and you can do as well as you think you can do.

“I find that opportunity exciting that’s the way I look at it.”

The Ireland flanker thinks it is easy fixes for Ulster to get back to winning ways.

“I think from Munster we need to manage our kicking game better in terms of our chase, in terms of how we are getting back into position on receiving kicks and that kind of thing,” he said. “I think if we had of done that better there would have been some huge swings of momentum in the game.

“Small bits...spacing in defence, which is pretty good but we had a couple of slip-ups, so I think focusing on bits like that.

“It is always constantly changing, there is nothing that you just can’t get better, at something that stays perfect for ever.”

Ulster face Edinburgh at DAM Health Stadium with a 7.35pm kick-off (live on Premier Sport, SuperSport & URC TV).

ULSTER: (15-9) Mike Lowry, Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak; (1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson, Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen. Replacements: Brad Roberts, Eric O’Sullivan, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, John Cooney, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle.