Ulster must be clinical to bag precious bonus -- Humphreys
Published 17/12/2011 | 05:00
ULSTER kicked off an important weekend by tying Ireland internationals Paddy Wallace and Tom Court down on new deals, but out-half Ian Humphreys admits his side need a bonus point away to Aironi if they are to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages.
Wallace, who remains out with a thumb injury, will stay with the province until at least the end of the 2013 season, while Court, who starts at loose-head for the trip to Monza, has signed up until June 2014.
And even if the Italians have improved in recent seasons, their performances in this competition have been poor. They have scored just one try in their three outings to date and conceded 16, including five in last weekend's 31-10 defeat at Ravenhill, and Humphreys wants all five points on offer today.
"We probably need a bonus point to help us in our bid to qualify, but we first must focus on winning the game," he said. "I don't think there have been many bonus points in the other groups, so 19 or 20 points could get you through as one of the best runners-up.
"It will be a different team we are playing -- they'll bring in a few more forwards and a bit more class and experience, and also they're at home, so they will be a lot more physical and fired-up and it will definitely be a more difficult game.
"But we may have few things up our sleeve.
"There is also a balance of not showing your hand too much in the first game -- you try and hold something back for this week.
"We had a lot of possession last Friday, but I can't imagine us getting that much this week. The key is that we are more clinical this week because we'll maybe only have four or five chances in the game and we have to take all of them."
Court's inclusion at the expense of Paddy McAllister is the only change from last week's side.
Paul Marshall made an excellent start to the season, but Humphreys has flourished with the return of Ruan Pienaar to No 9 where he can orchestrate a backline that looks capable of scoring the four tries required.
Stefan Terblanche is held in reserve and Humphreys believes the bench might be needed to get them over the line.
"We have strength in depth everywhere in the squad and it's credit to the coaches and the people behind the scenes that we can produce a squad that can compete even with a few injuries," he said.
Ulster -- A D'Arcy; A Trimble, D Cave, N Spence, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, S Ferris, C Henry, P Wannenburg. Reps: N Brady, P McAllister, A Macklin, T Barker, R Diack, P Marshall, P Jackson, S Terblanche
Aironi -- R Trevisan; S Sinoti, A Masi, G Pizarro, G Venditti; L Orquera, T Keats; S Perugini, F Ongaro, L Romano, Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami, capt, N Cattina, S Favaro, J Sole
Reps: T D'Apice, A de Marchi, F Staibano, G Biagi, F Ferrarini, R Quartaroli, T Tebaldi, N Olivier.
Ref -- G Garner (RFU).
Aironi v Ulster,
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