Sport Rugby

Sunday 17 December 2017

Marshall prepared for 'completely different challenge' ahead of Treviso return mission

Ulster centre warns team-mates not to get sucked in by complacency

Ulster's Luke Marshall scores a try at Ravenhill
Ulster's Luke Marshall scores a try at Ravenhill
David Kelly

David Kelly

Luke Marshall has warned that complacency is Ulster's fiercest foe as the northern province attempt to complete their Italian job by accumulating a full 10 points from their back-to-back ties with Treviso.

Treviso were thumped 48-0 in Ravenhill last weekend and barely raised a whimper during the entire rout as Marshall's double helped Ulster to a seven-try triumph.

However, now back in Monigo and determined to send off coach Franco Smith in style, Treviso may resemble something more similar to the side who have ruffled the Irish team's feathers in Pro12 combat in recent seasons.

"It was nice to get a big home win," agrees Marshall. "Although it does put us into a bit of a dangerous position in being a little complacent.

"Treviso are going to be a completely different team at home. After all they have been the only team to have beaten Munster this season and ran Cardiff extremely close as well. The challenge is going to be completely different and we must be totally focused."

Ulster's task of replicating last weekend's performance will have been helped by the unique luxury afforded coach Mark Anscombe as, for the first time in his 18-month reign, he is in a position to name the same 23 on successive weekends.

With six internationals and Nick Williams all out of action, Ulster have been fortunate with the way the fixture list has fallen in terms of the back-to-back sequence.

Now they must capitalise on the advantage, putting pressure on Pool 5 rivals Leicester, who will tomorrow seek to match Ulster's win on the Mediterranean coast against Montpellier.

The French side face Toulon next weekend in the Top 14 and they have rotated all but the gargantuan Georgian back-rower Mamuka Gorgodze, clearly indicating that they are already eyeing a European exit.

Thus, Pool 5 seems destined to culminate in a shoot-out between Ulster and Leicester at Welford Road next month. That is presuming Ulster take care of business and avoid a needless calamity. "If we lose this week it will make our job for the remainder of the pool games that much harder," cautions Marshall.

"A lot of people are saying that the big game will be a final at Welford Road, but away to Treviso and then Montpellier at home are two massive games we must win before that."

Treviso have lost their previous five home matches against Irish clubs in the Heineken Cup, including two defeats to Ulster (2001, 2006). Furthermore, Ulster have won five of their last six away games in this competition, with only their limp quarter-final defeat to Saracens last season spoiling the run.

Lock Dan Tuohy will make his 100th appearance for them today, while Andrew Trimble equals the province's record for Heineken Cup appearances.

Trimble plays in Europe for the 57th time, bringing him level with his boss David Humphreys. Tighthead prop John Afoa makes his 50th appearance in all competitions. A day of many milestones for Ulster, then, but the only number that matters are the five points they expect to bring home.

Verdict: Ulster

Benetton Treviso -- B Williams; L Nitoglia, M Campagnaro, A Sgarbi, L McLean; A Di Bernardo, E Gori; M Rizzo, L Ghiraldini, L Cittadini, A Pavanello (capt), C van Zyl, A Zanni, M Vosawai, R Barbieri Reps: G Maistri, A de Marchi, I Fernandez Rouyet, V Bernabo, D Budd, P Derbyshire, T Botes, J Ambrosini

Ulster -- J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Herring, J Afoa; J Muller (capt), D Tuohy; R Diack, S Doyle, R Wilson. Reps: N Annett, C Black, D Fitzpatrick, N McComb, M McComish, P Marshall, M Allen, D McIlwaine.

Ref -- G Garner (RFU).



Irish Independent

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