Ulster’s Breakdown Battle Ahead of Bath Clash
Ulster forwards coach Roddy Grant emphasizes the importance of rectifying breakdown errors as they prepare to face Bath in their Heineken Champions Cup opener. With two consecutive defeats behind them, Ulster aims to avoid another setback.
In their recent home match against Edinburgh, Jamie Ritchie proved to be a real thorn in Ulster’s side at the breakdown, resulting in a disappointing 27-24 loss for the Irish side. The presence of Sam Underhill for Bath only adds to the challenge that lies ahead at the Recreation Ground.
“We certainly struggled in that area,” admits Grant during an Ulster media briefing on Monday. “The breakdown is a complex aspect of the game involving tactics, technique, and individual responsibility.”
Ritchie’s impressive performance has prompted a careful analysis during post-match review sessions. Grant highlights various contributing factors such as sloppy ball placement by carriers, slow support players or cleaners failing to hit rucks decisively and Ritchie taking advantage.
“Underhill is also aggressive at competing for possession, so it demands our full attention,” warns Grant. “Improving our breakdown play will be crucial.”
Following Saturday’s defeat where Ulster had to scramble for two late tries just to secure a losing bonus point, head coach Dan McFarland expressed his disappointment with Tuesday’s training session, attributing it partially to their lackluster performance.
“Our cohesion suffered due to constant changes in the lineup,” comments McFarland. “Consistency and accuracy are key to our progress, especially during training.”
Captain Alan O’Connor took charge in addressing the team after Saturday’s loss, delivering a mature and honest assessment of their performance.
“Alan spoke brilliantly in the changing room afterwards, providing insightful perspective,” acknowledges Grant. “This week, we need everyone—coaches, players, leaders—to focus on refining our skills through intense and accurate training sessions.”
Bath enters this upcoming clash with confidence following an impressive 41-24 victory over Exeter that propelled them to second place in the Premiership table.
“Bath is clearly on top form,”
admits Grant. However, he firmly believes Ulster can regroup from recent setbacks and compete at a high level.
” With quality players like Scotland’s Finn Russell as their fly-half,
it certainly adds motivation for us to rise up against tough opposition” , adds Grant admiringly. ”
Russell’s exceptional abilities make him one of the best number tens worldwide.
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