Tuesday 25 July 2017

We don't want to become known as chokers - Payne

Ulster's Jared Payne has called on his team-mates to learn from the hard days and channel previous disappointment into a performance against Glasgow
Ulster's Jared Payne has called on his team-mates to learn from the hard days and channel previous disappointment into a performance against Glasgow
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Jared Payne has called on Ulster to learn from their recent big-game disappointments and book their place in a Belfast final.

The northern province have consistently been one of the Guinness Pro12's top teams in recent years, but despite their improvements have failed to win a trophy. Payne wants that to change at Scotstoun where Ulster face the table-topping Glasgow Warriors.

A habit of picking up cataclysmic red cards has not helped them in knockout rounds, while they have also come out on the wrong side of close results on important occasions.

It has all gone into their bank of experience and the Ireland centre called on his team-mates to learn from the hard days and channel previous disappointment into a performance this evening.

"We're just hoping for a different result because we've slipped up in a few big games," he said.

"So, hopefully we've taken the learnings from that and put them to good use. We can't really afford to lose any more of these big games, because, I don't want to use the word chokers, but people will start to question us if we lose another big game. If we learn from the lessons then it will be of benefit on Friday."

The loss of South Africans Wiehahn Herbst and Franco van der Merwe has damaged Ulster's cause for their return to a venue where they lost heavily last weekend.

Neil Doak rested a host of front-liners for that game, and makes 11 changes to his starting line-up, recalling a raft of Ireland internationals including Tommy Bowe, Rory Best and Payne.

Glasgow were at full strength a week ago and their coach Gregor Townsend makes just two changes as Henry Pyrgos starts at scrum-half and Niko Matawalu switches on to the left wing. Fraser Brown comes in for Dougie Hall at hooker.

Ulster finished the season in good form, playing an exciting brand of rugby but Payne believes they'll need to be pragmatic and clinical to succeed in Scotland.

"You just come to appreciate a lot more that the smaller things matter a lot more in the big games," he explained.

"You can't play as expansively as we'd like to have done, you've got to build pressure and play for field position. Then small things come into it, like not giving away penalties in the wrong parts of the field, not allowing teams build a lead. We realise it's very important. We have to be tighter. In these sort of games you can play with positive intent but you have to be more clinical and take your chances."

The prize is huge, but the loss of the South African forwards will blunt Ulster's edge.

In a competition where no away team has won a semi-final, it might be a decisive factor in continuing the status quo.

Verdict: Glasgow

Glasgow Warriors - S Hogg; T Seymour, R Vernon, P Horne, N Matawalu; F Russell, H Pyrgos; R Grant, F Brown, R de Klerk; J Gray, A Kellock (capt); J Strauss, C Fusaro, A Ashe. Reps: P MacArthur, G Reid, M Cusack, L Nakarawa, R Wilson, D Weir, S Lamont, DTH van der Merwe.

Ulster - L Ludik; T Bowe, J Payne, D Cave, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Best (capt), R Lutton; L Stevenson, D Tuohy; I Henderson, C Henry, R Wilson. Reps: R Herring, A Warwick, B Ross, R Diack, S Reidy, P Marshall, S McCloskey, M Allen.

Ref - G Clancy (IRFU)

Glasgow Warriors v Ulster,

Live, TG4/BBC 2/Sky Sports 3, 7.45

Irish Independent

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