It is a galling statistic for Ulster’s players and fans alike – the province have not won a match since their Magners League opener against the Ospreys on September 21. Ulster number 8 Roger Wilson is well aware that tomorrow’s league trip to Connacht could prove to be the northerners’ most important game of the season.
With Connacht having won just one of their last 11 games in the Magners League and given both sides’ current positions in the table, tomorrow’s Interprovincial derby at the Sportsground (kick-off 7.30pm) has taken on added meaning.
It is a must-win game for both provinces and Roger Wilson is hopeful that Ulster can take the momentum gained from their first half display against Bourgoin last weekend into the Galway tie.
“I suppose if we got anything from that game (against Bourgoin), it was the bonus point. But it is going to be a hell of an effort to get out of our pool in the Heineken Cup. It is not something we will be thinking about too much or dwelling on.
“You just cannot lose two games on the trot, but because of the bad run of form we’ve had in the last six or seven games, the most important thing is to forget about results and think about performance.
“Hopefully the result will follow. Certainly against Bourgoin it was a step in the right direction. Nothing less than a win will do in Galway though, and that is what we have been working on this week,” he told the News Letter.
With their European campaign under a cloud, Ulster are shifting their attention to overhauling Connacht in the Magners League standings and putting themselves in line to qualify for next season’s Heineken Cup.
Wilson added: “In many ways this game is almost bigger than last week. The one thing we are playing for, and it may be depressing in some ways, is to finish above Connacht and ensure qualification for Europe next year.
“There are no hiding places for us. Galway is never an easy place to go and you can be sure Connacht know the stakes just as much as we do.
“They will be really gunning for us. If we were to lose it is going to make life very difficult for us. It is absolutely vital we get a win this week.”
With just six points from their first six league games, the men in white will be chasing wins against Connacht and Edinburgh (at Ravenhill) over the next two weekends. Against Bourgoin they coughed up a 17-9 lead and Wilson is determined that he and his colleagues will not make the same mistakes which allowed the French side back into the game.
“I think (last week) was the best we have played for a long time, certainly in the first half anyway. It was completely the opposite from what we have been doing in the past few weeks. We certainly turned up this time and that is encouraging,” admitted the Ireland international.
“We showed signs that the team are coming together a bit more and playing together, which is the first thing we needed to get right before we moved any further forward. At the same time, we’re disappointed that we didn’t have the ability to close out the game in the second half.”