European Rugby Weekend Preview

European Rugby Weekend Preview

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Ulster’s miraculous comeback last week kept their Champions Cup hopes alive but now they must back that up against Saracens this weekend.

Euro1

Ulster sit six points behind Pool 1 leaders Saracens and victory at Allianz Park on Saturday would keep them in the mix to top the group, while also putting them in prime position to secure a quarter-final spot as one of the best runners-up.

Sarries will be looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season, which came against Harlequins in the English Premiership last week.

Meanwhile, Ulster came from 23-0 down at half-time to beat Oyonnax 24-23 last time out but director of rugby Les Kiss is wary of the wounded animal.

“We have a chance, without a doubt. It’s a massive week for us and not an ideal one after Saracens got beaten last week – they’ll be smarting,” said Kiss.

It doesn’t get any easier for us but we’re in the hunt and that’s the main thing.

“We need to get points out of this week somehow and deliver a lot better at home against Oyonnax in the next match, but at least there’s a chance for us.”

Ulster are Ireland’s last hope in the Champions Cup with both Leinster and Munster already out of the running for the knockout stages after disappointing campaigns.

Leinster have lost all four of their Pool 5 games to date, so will be playing for little more than pride when they host Bath at the RDS Arena this weekend.

Munster are in a similar position having lost three of four games in Pool 4 but host Stade Francais at Thomond Park at Saturday lunchtime.

And head coach Anthony Foley has demanded his troops do the famous red jersey, which you can buy in our store, proud.

“We’ve lost three in a row and are out of a competition that means a lot to this club,” explained Foley.

Now we just have to think about how we get better and produce a performance worthy of the jersey.

“Everyone has upped the ante in this competition and so have we but we haven’t got the results we wanted.”

In the Challenge Cup, things are going better for Connacht where they sit top of Pool 1 – two points clear of both Brive and Newcastle Falcons.

They travel to Brive on Saturday evening knowing victory will put them in pole position, with just a match against bottom-of-the-group Enisei-STM remaining.

And head coach Pat Lam is hopeful Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw will be fit for the crunch clash.

“We’ve got a couple of tough European games coming up, we’ve got to travel to Brive which will be a challenge,” said Lam.

“Robbie Henshaw has had a scan and could return in a couple of weeks, it will be a tight call for the Brive game but he should be fine after that.”

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