Dempsey: “Ulster game is huge”
April 28, 2016 / 12:00 am / client
Girvan Dempsey has said that Ulster’s Guinness PRO12 play-off fate isn’t a consideration for Leinster ahead of the contest between the two teams this Saturday in Kingspan Stadium (KO 3pm, live on Sky Sports), with the province focusing solely on securing a home semi-final at the RDS Arena.
Leinster are currently top of the Guinness PRO12 table with two regular season games to go – level on points with Connacht and two ahead of Glasgow Warriors.
Two wins in those final two games will guarantee a home semi-final for Leinster, starting with Ulster this weekend.
“This weekend against Ulster is huge,” Dempsey told the media at Leinster’s UCD training base this week.
“We’re fighting for that home semi-final and they’re certainly in the mix [for the Guinness PRO12 playoffs], and obviously looking over their shoulder at Scarlets behind them. You look at the table overall and you look at that last game between Connacht and Glasgow in Galway, that could decide a lot. We’re in a position now for the last two games where we can control our own destiny and we can decide where we finish in the table. That starts this Saturday against Ulster.
“We’re looking at ourselves, our own performance. We look back to the last game against Edinburgh and some of the frustrations in the first half and not getting the scores we felt we created, and actually converting that pressure into points. The second half was very pleasing. We spoke about a number of things at half-time and the guys come out and implement and get four tries. We’re constantly looking at our own performance. Ulster know it’s a huge game for them in terms of their qualification for the top four. It’s going to be a big game.”
As it stands in the Guinness PRO12, eight teams are still in with a mathematical chance of making the play-offs and 11 teams can still secure qualification for the Champions Cup with two rounds to go.
“I think the league has grown. I think you see it’s a lot more competitive. Even coming into where we are now, you look at that middle group, they’re still competing for qualification to the Champions Cup. Even then the two Italian teams are fighting it out for the Italian spot in Europe as well. The whole way throughout the league there’s probably only one team that don’t really have much to play for. As a competition I think it’s grown hugely and I think it’s become much more competitive. Throughout the whole season there’s no easy game.”
That sentiment is especially true of a trip to Kingspan Stadium to face the team with the second best defensive record in the league. Ulster have only lost two home Guinness PRO12 games this season, by a combined total of three points.
“Ulster are like ourselves: they’re a very strong defensive outfit, they’re second in the stats for their defensive record, likewise in attack they’ve got exciting players across the board. It’s going to be a challenge to our defence, and in terms of attack it’s going to be tough to break them down. But we feel if we perform the way have been over the last few weeks then we can get the result.”