Front-row worries for Ulster

Ulster are sweating on the fitness of their front-row ahead of Friday’s big Irish derby when the visit of Leinster hails the official opening of the rejuvenated Ravenhill stadium where there will be a capacity of 17,500 in attendance.

Front-row worries for Ulster

With Ulster’s hopes of silverware slowly being buried deep in thephysiotherapy room, there could be relief with tight-heads John Afoa and Ricky Lutton steadily regaining fitness after respective back and leg injuries. At least the other side of the scrum appears to be healthy again with Tom Court and Callum Black getting the thumbs up alongside hooker Rob Herring to participate in a game Ulster must win to give themselves a chance of making the RaboDirect play-offs.

With Rory Best, Ruan Pienaar, Dan Tuohy and Robbie Diack more or less out for the rest of the season, and Stephen Ferris not being considered this week, it will be a daunting task against the league leaders for an Ulster side that has lost its last two games and slipped to fourth in the table with the Ospreys threatening in fifth.

When you consider Ulster have to travel to Munster for their final game, the urgency of this match sinks in.

“Do I think we can win on Friday? Yes, of course,” said Anscombe. “We’ve trained well, we’ve prepared well. Yes, we have a couple of injuries, but we will be very happy with the team we will put out on night to do the job we want. We know Leinster are a class outfit and recognise what they have got right across the park . They have a big squad, a large Academy programme and generally a lot of players there of very high calibre. But that will mean nothing on Friday. It’s a derby, the boys are up for it, and excited about it. These are the games that gives them the chance to get one over their Irish team mates,” said Anscombe, who pinpoints a few failings in the Ulster season so far. We must look after the ball if we want to have any chance of winning. We then must play to our strengths and realise what they are and get at the right end of the park. If we do that and look after the ball, put pressure on Leinster we will get the points.

“We just must cut down on the errors which have been prevalent. Once you do that you are building pressure on the opposition. We feel we will have a strong team out, playing on firm conditions and it will allow both teams to play some good rugby.

“Leinster enjoy throwing the ball about, and let’s be honest we are pretty happy with the backline we have. In reality it is two international back-lines going against each other, that will be pretty special. If we win this one and the final game at Thomond, there is no reason why we will not be back here for a home semi-final. So you never say never! It’s totally in our own hands now.”

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