GUINNESS PRO12: Andrew Trimble wants to turn tables on Ulster’s Provincial rivals

Andrew Trimble is tackled by Josh Navidi during the Guinness PRO12 League clash between Ulster Rugby and Cardiff Blues
Andrew Trimble is tackled by Josh Navidi during the Guinness PRO12 League clash between Ulster Rugby and Cardiff Blues

Ulster have had to live in the shadows in both Europe and Domestic competitions in recent season of Munster and Leinster.

Indeed last year Connacht achieved what Ulster had not done previously and won the Guinness PRO12 title.

Ulster won the former Celtic League in 2006 and reached the European Cup final in 2012, but since then they have been bridesmaids to their main rivals Leinster and Munster.

However, there is a chance to right that in the coming weeks when they meet both in a dramatic conclusion to the PRO12 regular league season.

Munster and Leinster look almost assured of home semi-finals in the Championship play-offs and Ulster will play both sides as they look to make the semi-finals.

Current leaders Leinster will be the visitors to Kingspan Stadium on the final day of the regular league season (Saturday, May 6).

But first they have to go to Limerick’s fortress Thomond Park and face second placed Munster.

In between there is an away date in Swansea against Ospreys, who are battling it out with both Ulster and Scarlets for the last two spots.

Ironically, if Ulster finished third or fourth they would have to place either Munster or Leinster in the semi-finals - and away.

Ulster missed a golden opportunity to move third in the table last weekend when they drew with Cardiff Blues 24-24 in Belfast, but with Ospreys losing 18-17 at home to Leinster it kept the Irish Province right in the hunt.

Irish international winger Andrew Trimble said the next three games were “cup finals”.

“It is last chance for us so we will be giving it a go,” said Trimble.

He accepted it was a case of last chance saloon, but that was something they were not unaccustomed to.

“It’s something we’ve got used to unfortunately and it’s something that’s frustrating.

“We talked about it at the start of the season. If you make life hard for yourself, things can get very tricky (later).

“I think this team, if we put ourselves under pressure, it can bring the best out of us but it’s hard to do that week in, week out coming towards the end.

“We’re under pressure and we need to produce a big performance.

“There’s a lot of character in this team, there’s a lot of stuff people haven’t seen.

“We know we can be good on our day but we have to dig deep and be brave.

“We just have to be tough out there and hopefully that produces a big performance because there’s no other option.”

Ulster probably are not quite at the level of Munster or Leinster at present, with both due to face Champions Cup semi-finals in a fortnight.

“Off the back of two quarter-final performances (in Europe) that were unbelievable impressive, both Leinster and Munster have been mixing it with the best in Europe and more often than not come out on top,” acknowledged Trimble.

“Even just the consistency of performances and the individual performances, they front up week in, week out.

“It’s not very often you say, ‘Jeez, Leinster or Munster didn’t turn up today’, they make a habit of it.

“That’s something we need to take and look at ourselves. It’s a shame and it’s unfortunate that for years we’ve been comparing ourselves to them and how do we get to be that.

“Opportunities like Saturday are a chance to turn the tables and shift that tide a little bit. We’ve done it once or twice in the past but never often enough.”