Round 7 of the Pro 14 sees the Welsh Dragons travel to Belfast in a tough matchup against Dan McFarland’s boys. There can only be one outcome in Ulster v Dragons this Friday night.
Last week, I called the European match between Ulster and Racing 92 correctly. I knew the conditions would favour the home side and it was evident when Ulster wilted under the pressure of the French giants in the latter stages. The tip for Racing 92 to win both halves flew in for us all.
“It’s a tough place to go, it’s a class stadium and a unique place historically where they love their rugby” (Bernard Jackman, Head Coach Dragons).
Recap & Form:
In Europe, Ulster stunned their French hosts with a bright start as they raced to an early lead. Their intent to play and ability to create chances was clear for all to see.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t sustain that level of performance. Familiar cracks started to appear in the set piece, and the French side were well equipped to take advantage. That said, there are plenty of positives to take from the loss including some excellent individual performances from the injury-plagued Coetzee and youngster Lowry.
“We got a glimmer of what we’re capable of” (Mcfarland on loss to Racing 92)
In their last Pro14, Ulster lost their first home match to Connacht in over 50 years. It was a reality check for the Ulstermen; they were bullied in the contest and will need to bring more intensity moving forward for the rest of the season.
In Europe, the Dragons were beaten last time out to Northampton in the Challenge Cup. It was an excellent chance for the Welsh side to kick-start their season; Northampton are struggling in the Premiership so the Dragons would have felt the result was there for the taking.
In domestic competition, the Dragons started their campaign well with back to back home wins. However, they are finding it challenging to compete away from home. They are in the midst of their worst ever losing run: 35 successive defeats since 2015. An away trip to Ulster could spell trouble for the Welsh region.
Both are in their debut season for the province and are arguably the in-form players for the side. Although the youngster is yet to score a try, Lowry has been making metres with ease. It’s only a matter of time before he crosses the whitewash.
Addison set the Ulster record for total carries in a game earlier this season; he is a constant threat to the opposition and has all the skills to find his way to the try line this week.
Although Ulster lost last time out at home to Connacht, they haven’t suffered successive home defeats in domestic competition since 2010. McFarland has selected a strong side, and I expect a comprehensive win for Ulster and a bonus point win.
By Angus Macartney