Ulster coach Alan Solomons prepares to face Llanelli in their Pool A showdown at Ravenhill on Friday night declaring this is a straight winner takes all.
Ulster coach Alan Solomons prepares to face Llanelli in their Pool A showdown at Ravenhill on Friday night declaring “this is a straight winner takes all. This is a big, big one for both teams. There are three teams chasing the last two places and I am approaching the match on the assumption that we either go into the next stage of the Celtic League or we don’t. We have to win – it is as simple as that.”
Ulster gave themselves the perfect build-up with a 25-6 home win over Cardiff in the Heineken Cup last Friday and will be banking on their Ravenhill faithful playing a major role again.
“It is going to be an extremely tough game and I am happy we are at home,” said Solomons. “I was very satisfied with our performance against Cardiff, the pack in particular played extremely well. But we know that Llanelli are a top quality team. At the moment I rate them, Pontypridd and Neath as the top sides in Wales. We are going to have play at our best to beat Llanelli.”
International wing Tyrone Howe will be out for up to three months with a torn hamstring and Solomons is sweating on the fitness of fellow international threequarter Jonathan Bell.
“He is our big worry after injuring his knee against Cardiff and I guess we will have to wait until later in the week to see if he will be fit for the Llanelli game,” said Solomons.
Meanwhile Llanelli director of rugby Gareth Jenkins,/b> has warned his side that they must cut out the errors if they are to progress to the quarter-finals.
The Scarlets put up a brave performance on Friday night but couldn’t overcome a strong Bourgoin side in France, losing 54-38 in the Heineken Cup.
“I thought we played well against Bourgoin and were more than unlucky to lose the game,” said Jenkins.
“The difference between the two sides on the night was that we made too many errors. Three of those errors cost us points and we must cut them out if we are to win against Ulster. We dominated the match but it’s no good having most of the play if you don’t convert it into points.
While Llanelli’s Heineken Cup aspirations are still alive, a defeat on Friday night will spell the end of their Celtic League campaign.
“It will be a huge disappointment not to reach the knockout stages of the competition, Jenkins said.
“I think we’ve made enough progress this season to proceed further but we’ll have to earn our victory. Ulster present us with a very different challenge to Bourgoin – the only similarity is that they are both very good sides and will both be tough matches.”
“But, we’re more than capable of going there and getting a win. We’re a decent team and if we play to our full ability then we can get the result we want.”
According to Jenkins, Llanelli will spend most of this week working on eradicating the mistakes they made against Bourgoin. “We’ll work the players hard in training and the management team will do the homework. The players were very disappointed after the Bourgoin game and this match against Ulster gives them a perfect opportunity to redeem themselves.”