UNFORTUNATELY FOR ULSTER flanker Sean Reidy during this week’s media briefing, he has to repeat one word that has consistently eluded Ulster’s grasp this season.
It’s something Ulster have not been for the past few weeks. At home to Connacht they were turned over on several occasions in key areas. Away to Leinster they dominated for most of the second half and, yet, only crossed the whitewash once.
Last week’s defeat to the Scarlets was the worst of the lot as Ulster went in at half-time 13-6 to the good before failing to score at all in the second half and falling to a 16-13 defeat.
Reidy himself was at the centre of controversy in the game, giving away a penalty try that saw him become the first player to fall foul of the new World Rugby directives on high tackles.
“At the time I thought I wasn’t in the wrong,” Reidy laments. “I thought I made a positive tackle, but the referee saw it in a different light. It’s his call.
“The new rules have changed and you can’t make any contact around the area, even though during the game there were numerous tackles which were similar.”
In fact, the 27-year old went as far as to openly question the directives, but stopped just short of attacking them.
“What can you do?” the Kiwi flanker questioned.
Reidy knows that Ulster need to improve that clinical finishing at the line when they travel to Sandy Park on Sunday to face the Exeter Chiefs (kick-off 5:30pm).
It’s a make-or-break game for the province – win, and their chances of reaching the last eight are prolonged for another week; lose, and they face elimination at the pool stages for the third season running.
It’s not an ideal situation to be in, but Reidy says that their side have confidence in their ability to get over the line, despite their recent struggles in the red zone.
“I think we’ve shown we can score points when we get in the right areas,” the Ireland international states. “We just need to be a little more clinical.
“We’re getting in the right areas, but a dropped ball, a little mistake here or there, that’s really costing us. We’ve been working hard, putting ourselves under a lot of pressure this week to perform in those zones.
“It’s Europe and we’ve seen in the past that 16 to 19 points can get you through, so get a couple of wins here and we’re well in the hunt.”
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Reidy does not give you the impression that he is part of a side that has won just four of their last 11 games, and just one of their last seven on the road.
It’s going to be a tough ask in Exeter against a Chiefs side that has found itself in something of a purple patch recently having won seven of their last nine outings.
But Reidy, who himself is pushing for a place in Joe Schmidt’s Six Nations squad, says that they simply want to get stuck into their opponents and give themselves the best chance of making the last eight.
“We know we can get through to the quarter-finals and there’s some real belief in the squad,” he insists. “We’re going to go out there and really attack it and play some good running rugby out there.
“They’ve got some big boys, but we’ve also got some class footballers as well. If we can match them up front, we know our backs can do the business. We’re going over there to get stuck into them.”
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