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Bradley: underdog tag a blessing not a burden

Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley is comfortable with the underdog tag as his side seek to continue their remarkable Heineken Cup adventure in today's semi-final with Ulster.

Edinburgh travelled to Dublin yesterday with a starting XV unchanged from their 19-14 quarter-final win over Toulouse, the only alteration to the 23-man squad coming on the bench, where back-row Stuart McInally (hamstring) has been replaced by lock Steven Turnbull.

Ulster, twice comfortable winners over Edinburgh in Pro12 competition this term, are highly fancied to advance to the May 19 final at Twickenham, but Bradley's men have defied the odds time and again in Europe this term and are optimistic of doing so again.

"It's easier going in as an underdog. It is an advantage to us," Bradley said. "You know you have to be as sharp as you can be to match the opposition."

And Bradley sees no reason why Edinburgh cannot beat Ulster and then go on to defeat Clermont Auvergne or Leinster, who meet in the second semi-final tomorrow, to lift the trophy.

"We have to have a good day tomorrow against Ulster and if we do that we'll go to the final," he said. "You're in a final and the same thing goes -- if we have a good day there, I think we can win the cup."

Bradley admits the performances in Europe have been a "surprise" in his first season at Murrayfield. Edinburgh have enjoyed a stunning series of results, including the one-point wins over London Irish and Racing Metro, the latter in a 48-47 11-try thriller.

"The resilience of the lads has been excellent," said Bradley. "We have found ourselves under an unbelievable amount of pressure in a lot of our games.

"We needed four tries against London Irish, we got four tries to get ahead of Cardiff (in the pool). We needed to get four tries in 20 minutes against Racing Metro and we did that as well, which is quite unusual.

"Against Toulouse there was only two points in the match up to the last kick of the game and we were trailing at half-time, but we managed to hold Toulouse scoreless for 50 minutes. These are the pillars you build confidence on."

Bradley insists the expectation will be on Ulster, despite Edinburgh's results and noted ability to overcome more fancied opponents: "Ulster have been building for this for 13 years. They've had a couple of looks over the crest of the mountain and now they're there they feel they have a very good chance of getting to a final.

"They will be very confident against us on the basis of recent results, which is great for us. They have to handle that sort of expectation. It will be a difficult day for them and if we play close to our best, we'll beat them and that's what we're hoping for."

Irish Independent