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Reidy: Connacht Are Another Big Challenge For Us

Reidy: Connacht Are Another Big Challenge For Us

While Sean Reidy’s disappointment at the Champions Cup defeat in Clermont was hard to hide, he insists that the Ulster squad must respond in a positive way when they host Connacht in next Friday’s sold-out GUINNESS PRO12 clash at Kingspan Stadium.

Ulster trailed 28-0 early in the second half but showed great character to score three unanswered tries and bring the score to 28-19. That had Les Kiss’ men eyeing two bonus points but a late blitz by Clermont saw them prevail 38-19, extending their record to just one loss in 28 European matches at Stade Marcel Michelin.

Sean Reidy explained that while Ulster could not match Clermont’s power in the first half, he still believes they are more than capable of competing with the best teams in Europe.

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“To be honest we’re pretty disappointed,” said the Ireland back rower. “You can’t give away that many points in the first half and expect to win these kinds of games. Their home crowd really got in behind them and I just don’t think we were physical enough in that first 15 or 20 minutes and that set the tone for the rest of the match. We had too many knock-ons and too many silly mistakes.

“We had a good spell in the second half when we showed that if we keep the ball in hand we can score tries against quality teams like this. We’ve got a lot of talent in this team and we know and we can be right up there with the best of them in Europe.”

The 27-year-old insists that following other results at the weekend, Ulster’s chances of progression to the Champions Cup knockout stages are still strong if they can register wins in rounds 5 and 6 next month.

“I haven’t read too much into the other results but we’ve got to really turn up and take it to Exeter and Bordeaux in our last two games. We can’t sit back on our heels, we’ve got to go and grab it ourselves.”

But the more immediate task at hand for Reidy and his team-mates is the visit of reigning PRO12 champions Connacht to Belfast this coming Friday.

“It’s a pretty short turnaround against Connacht – just five days – and we know they played pretty good at the weekend so it will be another big challenge for us. We’ve got to put this behind us and move forward as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Ulster have two fresh injuries following yesterday’s match in France. Prop Kyle McCall suffered a significant right hamstring injury and will see a surgeon in London this week to explore surgical options. Lock Peter Browne sustained a concussion.

Both players will not be available for selection for the Connacht game. A number of others picked up soft tissue knocks at Stade Marcel Michelin, but all of them are expected to be available for this week’s interprovincial derby.

Andrew Trimble is available for selection once again after recovering from a foot injury he suffered while playing for Ireland against Australia in the GUINNESS Series last month.

Ricky Lutton, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor, John Donnan, Robbie Diack, Marcell Coetzee, Matty Rea, Stuart Olding, Jared Payne, Craig Gilroy and Peter Nelson are still not available for selection.