Europe proved to be an unhappy hunting ground for both Leinster and Ulster over the past couple of weeks, so an Irish derby this weekend could be just what the doctor ordered.
There is always plenty at stake when the provinces meet, but after their respective continental humblings – not to mention the single point separating them in the league table – the Pro12 clash underneath the Friday night lights at the RDS Arena takes on added significance.
Leinster opened up their Champions Cup campaign with a heavy 33-6 loss to a rampant Wasps side ten days ago before being bullied at the scrum by Bath in a 19-16 reverse on Saturday.
The Leinstermen conceded seven penalties at scrum-time, one meriting a penalty try, which directly led to 16 of Bath’s 19-point haul.
Scrum coach John Fogarty admitted the display by his pack was simply not good enough and utility back Luke Fitzgerald acknowledges the squad are desperate to right the wrongs at the RDS this Friday.
“We just didn’t perform to the best of our ability against Bath and everyone’s pretty disappointed with that,” said Fitzgerald.
It is good that we have a tough challenge this weekend, a huge challenge.
“It’s really important, they’re only one point behind us and at the RDS I think the people are looking for a better performance,
“Last time they came out we didn’t do ourselves justice and we didn’t do them proud, which is something we always try and do and that’s very, very disappointing.
“We want to have the place rocking again and have the crowd up on their feet and enjoying the rugby we’re playing and obviously performing and winning games there.”
Leinster and Ulster each won the home fixture when the teams clashed in the Pro12 last season, perhaps giving Fitzgerald and Co. the edge this Friday.
Ulster are also coming off a sub-par Champions Cup display as they suffered a 27-9 bonus-point defeat to reigning Premiership champions Saracens at the Kingspan Stadium, despite holding a 9-5 lead at half-time.
Victory over their southern neighbours this weekend would soon lay to rest any demons from that loss, in addition to lifting them above their hosts in the Pro12 standings.
And captain Rory Best is under no illusions that his troops will have to up their game to emerge triumphant from the RDS.
“We have to be men about it and stand up,” said the hooker. “I don’t think anyone likes to lose, especially big games at home.
“The good thing about having Leinster away next is that if we don’t learn from that, do it quickly and produce a much better performance then you’ll be on the end of another beating like that.
“That’s the pressure we’re under – we’re going to have to front up and learn a lot of harsh lessons. We’ve got to quickly park that and move on. We’re looking for a vast improvement.”