Thursday 18 January 2018

Robbie Henshaw: Positives to take from Ulster game, but now it's time for a couple of wins

Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Ulster’s Chris Henry, left, and Paddy Jackson at the Sportsground last weekend
Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Ulster’s Chris Henry, left, and Paddy Jackson at the Sportsground last weekend

Robbie Henshaw

It's hard to know how to feel coming away from last Saturday's game with just a losing bonus point. On the one hand you could say we were dominated in the first half, but on the other we performed very well after the restart and were pushing for a draw in the closing stages.

All in all, we are far from happy to lose to Ulster again, but that losing bonus point could prove to be crucial come the end of the season.

Saturday was a tough outing; we gave away a lot of ball in the first half and consequently we gave them a good lead going in at the break.

At 17-0 down it was going to be hard work to get on top of them. After making those mistakes we deserved to trail by that much at half-time - of all teams Ulster will punish you if you do give them those type of opportunities.

But it was a great comeback. We fought our way back to within seven points thanks to some great play. If a few passes had stuck maybe we could have taken a draw, but we'll take the good and the bad from it and move on.

It was only Monday morning that I got the chance to watch the game back, and right at the start we almost had our own Martin Johnson moment when both sides lined up at the same end.


In fairness to Ulster it wasn't their fault, it was the touch judge who told the referee which way we were playing. He didn't take Pat up the right way after the toss: we wanted to play into the wind first. Thankfully it got sorted out.

Listening to the Sky commentary, I heard them saying it was probably the strongest side Ulster had named all season. I suppose that tells you how they treated that game.

They are a quality side and we could have beaten them again for the second time this season.

We are not accepting the loss, though. I think we could have beaten them. Right now we have to pick ourselves up and really kick on to the next challenge.

We are determined to get a win. The points are so important because we know Scarlets and Edinburgh are really chasing us now. We intend on taking another step forward against Glasgow next weekend.

Fair play to Munster, they probably did us a bit of a favour in beating Edinburgh at Murrayfield, but Scarlets took a win against Zebre thanks to a very late kick from Rhys Priestland. All three teams are fighting for their lives now, so form, reputations and previous results can nearly go out the window. It's about who puts it in the most now.

In all reality, losing bonus points are not going to be enough for us - we need wins to hold on to sixth place. It is going to be a massive three or four weeks to come.

On the back of Ulster, we know there are things that we are doing well, but we realise that we need to work on others and get them right with table-toppers Glasgow coming to town.

We could have done a lot of things better last weekend, like how we dealt with their re-starts, taking care of the ball and making the most of our chances.

Training has gone well this week though. Despite having no game this weekend we were back in at it on Monday and we put in four solid days' prep for Glasgow.

Today is scheduled as a day off, we are off until Monday again for a change; the mini break will do us no harm ahead of a busy week.

No team has been picked for next weekend, but it has been great to line up with Bundee again. It meant a switch back out to No 13 for me - it's been a while since I have played there, but it was a simple transfer really. I have been playing there a lot this season for Connacht.

Last weekend we faced Jared Payne and Darren Cave, who played quite well. We missed a couple of tackles on them early and let them get into the game, but we soon settled back in.

I'm sure Bundee was a little bit rusty coming back into it after a couple of months out of action through injury, but that's just natural. After a couple of minutes I thought we gelled quite well and I was just delighted to have him back inside me to continue the partnership.

It was very disappointing for Craig Ronaldson to pick up an injury in the warm-up, and I really felt for him. Miah Nikora had trained with us all week so he was able to slot straight in.

Jack Carty was also in the 24-man squad list and I thought he did an exceptional job when he came in too.

So the competition is high at out-half, but it's that way for nearly all positions now as lads get back to full fitness. And I think we'll need everyone pushing hard for the remainder of the season.

Without doubt Glasgow is not going to be an easy task. They are top of the league and they are flying after another great win last week. But we'll have our homework done on them and that will get us primed for what's to come.

For us, next weekend is must-win territory. It's a massive challenge for us. Like Ulster, they are looking to secure their home semi-final so we have no doubt they will send a very strong team to Galway.

We will have to perform as a team to give us the best chance of a win.

Irish Independent

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