Ulster Rugby v Leinster Rugby


While qualification for the Guinness PRO14 play-off may already be guaranteed thanks to Ulster’s bonus-point victory at Edinburgh three weeks ago, just try telling back-row forward Nick Timoney that there will be nothing at stake when the team runs out against Leinster this evening. “THEY BEAT US HERE LAST YE OBVIOUSLY WE DON’T LIKE, A TO GET THEM BACK FOR THAT

“For Leinster it’s tough going into this season having won everything last year, so everyone’s targeting their games against them. But I think we’ve had a pretty clear upward curve this year as well and we’re catching up to those top teams in Europe. We showed that with a performance that could have very easily put us into a semi-final in Europe, so that gap’s definitely closing, but I think they’re still the team to beat.” “In the last year or two some of the bigger games got away from us and it was a let- down whereas this year it seems like we’re rising to the big occasions. We’re bringing our base level up to that. Those huge games are what you play for and I think it’s pretty exciting that we’re getting on the right side of a lot of those results. There have been one or two that didn’t go our way – the quarter-final being the obvious example – but on the whole we’re definitely going in the right direction.” Timoney attributes much of this improvement to strength in depth at Kingspan Stadium – in particular in the back row where he plies his trade, where competition for game-time has helped him progress in terms of performance.

“They beat us here last year, which obviously we don’t like, and we need to get them back for that,” he begins. “We lost to them earlier in the year twice, in the Champions Cup quarter-final and in the PRO14 game away, so it’s not meaningless by any stretch of the imagination. It’s always a big game against them, especially at home.” “It’s an interesting one towards the end of the season when one game will be worth everything and then in the next one there’s not necessarily any league positions up for grabs, but in terms of the way we’re preparing it’s obviously an important game for us. It’s not our last home game of the season, thankfully, but to put in a good performance and get a good win over them will be important for us.” It’s obvious listening to Timoney that he believes the clash will be an opportunity for Ulster to show just how far they have progressed this term – and there is no better side to prove it against than the reigning PRO14 champions and runaway 2018-19 Conference B leaders. “Leinster have been the standard-bearer for the past year and obviously we came so close to beating them in the Aviva,” he explains. “That was devastating for all of us, so it’s important for us as a team to prove that we’re getting to that level and we can beat teams like these.”



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