With the November international matches coming up in a couple of weeks, Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe is determined to go into that break with his side’s unbeaten record still intact.
Ulster’s dogged 19-8 Heineken Cup defeat of Glasgow Warriors was their seventh straight win of a season that is already promising much for the province.
Losing captain Johann Muller for eight weeks after the South African had thumb surgery yesterday is a serious setback, but Mark Anscombe knows his players must maintain their focus approaching the November break.
Before then they must travel to the Newport Gwent Dragons this Friday before entertaining Edinburgh the following week at Ravenhill.
Maintaining their unbeaten status at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 is Anscombe’s immediate priority after safely negotiating the first two rounds of European action.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’ve got two important games before the break, against the Dragons and Edinburgh. We don’t want to slip up at the moment so we need to keep our feet on the ground,” he said.
Ulster will have some senior players missing for the rescheduled game against Zebre on Sunday, November 18 as it now falls during the international period.
But their Kiwi boss sees it as an opportunity to continue to grow the strength in depth of the squad, stating: “We have key players going away to play the autumn Tests so we need to make sure we come out in that period of time with the win and keep building as a group.”
Given the difficult playing conditions, Anscombe declared himself happy with his charges’ showing at Scotstoun Stadium last Friday night.
Commenting after the game in Glasgow, he said: “It’s not easy to come here and get the victory and there’s other teams that I’m sure will find that out. We’re two from two and that leaves us at the right end of the table and that’s our objective.
“The players showed a lot of character, the way they hung in there and battled in tough conditions against a very good team.
“You’ve got to be able to work through things. The game of rugby doesn’t always go the way you want it and you’ve got opposition that do something about it.
“If you don’t have that character and attitude to hang in there and battle through the tough times, you won’t come out at the right end.
“I think we’ve done that a few times this year, showing that there is a bit of that character there and that is a good benchmark to start to build a good team from.”