Saturday 26 May 2018

Victory over Dragons key as campaign gets serious

Rob Penney

Our week in Italy went very well, but it would have been nice to wrap it up with a victory in Treviso, especially having taken five points against Zebre.

It was looking good for us, but then things went askew and the boys were disappointed to come away with nothing to show for their efforts.

But footie can be like that. One moment it is going one way and then suddenly it switches.

The yellow cards made the task all the more difficult. I have never seen anything like it, I'm not sure if I was ever involved when there was more than one, certainly never anything like four.

Yellow cards can change everything. From a coaching perspective you suddenly have to start working out the permutations of who to switch, who to bring on, who to take off. It becomes the priority rather than something else you would prefer to be occupied with.

Needless to say, we were pretty busy in the coaches' box last weekend and don't want to have to go through that again.

The upside of it all is that we have an immediate chance to get back to a positive by defeating Dragons in Musgrave Park. It is one of the great things about the Pro12, you have matches one after the other. It ensures you don't get carried away when you win because you know the next test is just around the corner.

And when you lose a game you can take the lessons from that, work with the group during the week, and go out and correct it all straight away.


We have focused on a few things this week and obviously one of them is to make sure we don't incur cards. There is very little between the teams in the league and you don't want to be giving opponents an advantage.

We want to get back to winning ways. We are heading into a crucial period, with Leinster next week and then the Heineken Cup for the following two weeks.

We want to take form and results into those games, but we know we will face a big task from Dragons.

Lyn Jones is an experienced coach and they have been producing good performances and results so far this season. They will fancy a crack at us.

It is early days in the league, but teams are more evenly matched this time.

Last year Ulster went on a bit of a run, but they were winning some of the games by a point or two rather than smashing teams. It is a long campaign and teams will hit form and then dip at various stages.

Dragons will have plenty of confidence. They backed up their win over Ulster by defeating Scarlets last weekend and, as we know here in Ireland, a derby win gives a big boost.

But our boys are looking forward to getting back out there and we want to build on the results we got against Edinburgh and Zebre. There was a lot of good work done in Italy last week and while the result in Treviso did not reflect that, we want to go out and make it count this weekend against Dragons.

It is a big weekend for sport in Munster with two teams from the province contesting the All-Ireland hurling final, so here's hoping we can give Cork and Clare supporters something to cheer about tomorrow night – regardless of which way the game in Croke Park goes!

Irish Independent

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