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Ulster to scalp Scots and seize moment

IT has long been time for the 'Ulstermen to stand up for themselves'.

The same can be said of under-achieving Edinburgh. This is the big chance for both, one that may not come around again any time soon.

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin is not one to say 'I told you so,' though that would be tempting in light of David Humphreys' pre-emptive strike to move him aside earlier in the season for the incoming New Zealander Mark Anscombe.

McLaughlin is Ulster to the marrow of his bones. He will do everything in his powers not to leave as a loser. Making the Heineken Cup final for the first time since 1999 would constitute a successful season.


There is a spine to Ulster's body of players that has given them assurance, composure under pressure from captain Johann Muller and match-winning guile from half-back Ruan Pienaar.

The appointment of Michael Bradley (pictured), the former Irish Triple Crown winning scrum-half, as Edinburgh's new coach was received with all the warmth of a Siberian winter.

In truth, the Cork man brought an ordinary curriculum vitae to Scotland, having held the reins at Connacht for eight years during which the Western Province gradually slid down the table.


Despite this, he has taken over better players at Edinburgh and forced them to reassess their outlook. The PRO12 League has been placed as secondary to Europe.

Bradley put all his rugby balls in one basket, stumbling to five wins in 21 rounds of the league to languish second-from-bottom, just six points above Aironi and 10 behind his former club Connacht.

In contrast, Edinburgh plundered the same five wins from six against Cardiff Blues, London Irish and Racing Metro in Pool Two before executing their greatest victory in Europe by cleaving Toulouse in the quarter-final at ballistic Murrayfield.

On such occasions were built the history and connection of Munster and Leinster to the Heineken Cup. It would be the greatest shot in the arm to Scottish rugby in the professional era if they could make the final.

Ulster v Edinburgh, The Aviva Stadium, Saturday (KO 5.45) Live Sky Sports 1

Verdict: Ulster

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