Saracens have to turn the power on if they are to beat Ulster, says Paul Wallace
Saracens must match Ulster physically to quieten the Ravenhill faithful, says Paul Wallace
By Paul Wallace
Last Updated: 03/04/14 6:58pm
Ulster are looking very good at the moment and seem to be peaking at the right time. They have got real quality and depth in their squad and some of their big players have had a good rest - the likes of Stephen Ferris, Tommy Bowe and Jared Payne are quality players who will be raring to go.
There is no real weakness in this Ulster side. If I had one issue it would be that sometimes they can be a little one-dimensional in attack. This stems from the fact that Ruan Pienaar runs the game from scrum-half.
Pienaar really needs Paddy Jackson at 10 taking a bit of responsibility off him – if that happens then Ulster would be even more dangerous.
Pienaar is a wonderful player and the key to Ulster’s success - however it is almost impossible to see opportunities outwide from the No.9 position. He really needs Paddy Jackson at 10 taking a bit of responsibility off him; if that happens, then Ulster would be even more dangerous.
Saracens are playing some really good rugby at the moment, Owen Farrell in particular. His game has really come on, especially as a running threat and his boot has always been deadly.
The big question is will Sarries be able to live with Ulster physically? Ulster’s scrum is very solid with the likes of Johann Muller, John Afoa, Tom Court and Rory Best giving them plenty of power. Stephen Ferris back on the side of the scrum also gives them that ball carrying capabilities. Chris Henry is one of the unsung heroes of the Ireland team. He is a real grafter and I think he will make a huge difference at the breakdown for Ulster - be it stealing the ball or slowing the ball down.
I’m looking forward to seeing the battle of the two hookers – Best against Schalk Brits. They are two different sorts of players but both very dynamic. Saracens use Brits as a ball carrier and he does a lot of the graft out wide. The lineout will be an important area and another great battle between Johann Muller and Steve Borthwick.
Everyone talks about Thomond Park but Ravenhill have the same, if not a more vociferous crowd who really get behind their team – especially when they have English opposition coming over, which will add some extra spice.
If Saracens want to get to the semi-finals then they will need to silence Ravenhill Park. Saracens will give Ulster a good run but I feel home advantage and the fact that Ulster have more experience in key positions will give them the edge.