Jacob Stockdale says Ulster have European Champions Cup fate in own hands ahead of Harlequins clash at Kingspan Stadium

Ulster's Jacob Stockdale made a crucial interception in the opening European Champions Cup game against Bath.
Ulster's Jacob Stockdale made a crucial interception in the opening European Champions Cup game against Bath.
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Seasons are defined by moments of inspiration and just how defining Jacob’s Stockdale’s intercept in injury time against Bath in the opening game will only become evident when the European Champions Cup pool stages are completed in January.

The Irish winger stopped a certain Bath try to preserve Ulster’s win and Dan McFarland’s side backed it up with a win over Clermont.

Ulster have eight points in Pool 3 before Saturday afternoon’s clash with Harlequins at Kingspan Stadium (3.15pm).

Stockdale has forged his reputation as a try-scorer but was happy to take praise for his defence.

“That is something I’ve been working on, my defence in general and trying to back up single efforts with double efforts,” he said.

“The more you work at it in training - you’re trying to read these defensive plays in training - it makes it a lot easier in games and you almost don’t even have to think about it.

“I’d say a year or two ago I probably would have turned around and just jogged back, and I think that’s a development I’ve seen in my own game over the last while, it all happened so fast it was more of an instinctive thing.

“You see an opportunity and you’ve got to go for it.”

Stockdale knows after wining the first two games there is no room for complacency in Europe. European group games are pretty much knockout games, if you want to have a home quarter-final you have to win every game,” he said.

“To just quality you need to win five out of six and I think that is something we are acutely aware of and when you win your first two games, it puts you in the driver’s seat but at the same time it is two out of six done and four to go.

“There is still obviously a long way to go in terms of the European season, but it definitely gives us a buzz and gives a bit of excitement as well as putting us in the right place.”

Ulster team v Harlequins: (15-9) Jacob Stockdale, Louis Ludik, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney; (1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, David Shanahan, Bill Johnston, Matt Faddes.