Ulster host Racing 92 this Saturday in a match that could shape the success of their season. Should Ulster win, it will put them in a great position to qualify from into the quarter finals. A loss, will see them needing to pick up a result away to Leicester in Round 6.
They are in a strong position but they must maintain their focus. The job is not over and there is plenty of rugby left to play before they ensure qualification.
Racing 92 are fast becoming one of Europe’s finest rugby sides. Boasting talent from all over the world, they have been able to find the right blend between the power of the forwards and set piece, with the elegance and skill in the backline.
Finn Russell marshals his troops well and he starred in the reverse fixture which saw Racing 92 race to a 44-12 win in Paris.
Ulster must keep their visitors under pressure as if they give them any encouragement they have the players to cause Ulster real problems. No team has made more metres in this year’s competition than Racing 92. Defence coach Payne will have his work cut out to nullify their potent attack.
The man of the moment, Jacob Stockdale, has enjoyed another impressive run in the green of Ireland and the white of Ulster. His knack of finding the try line and ability to spot space make him invaluable to this Ulster side.
Juan Imhoff is an Argentine flier who has found a rich vein of form in this year’s competition. With such talent to play off, he has found the try line 4 times, a total matched by Stockdale and they lead the way as top try scorers in the competition.
It will be fascinating to see which winger plays better on Saturday.
Racing are worthy favourites given the score in Paris. That said, Ulster are a different animal at home winning 9 of their last 10 European matches. The Kingspan is a very tough place to travel and Ulster will look to use their home advantage.
A loss wouldn’t end Racing 92’s hope of qualification. In theory, a fast start from Ulster could see the French side turn their attention to Round 6 in a match they will be heavy favourites to win.
If Ulster can play with intensity, control the tempo of the game and take their chances, they offer real value at 6/4.
How about a captain’s performance capped off with a try. Ulster’s talisman will be desperate to perform and help his side into the quarters.
He is aggressive and abrasive around the rucks and will be a threat near racing 92’s line. In addition, Ulster have found form with their maul in recent weeks. Rory could very well end up scoring off the back of a successful maul.