Ulster coach Dan McFarland can’t deny the pain of a 50-20 thrashing by Glasgow Warriors at his old Scotstoun stamping ground at this stage of the Guinness Pro14 last year will be a motivating factor for Saturday’s semi-final trip to face Edinburgh.
The Irish were blown away that night in May 2019 as tries from Tommy Seymour (2), Ali Price, Rob Harley, Kyle Steyn, Pete Horne and George Horne took Dave Rennie’s side to a historic Celtic Park final against eventual champions Leinster. “Last year was disappointing,” said the former Glasgow and Scotland forwards coach.
“We were knocked over by the first wave and then never got back to our feet… well not until it was too late.
“Now, we’ve got to bear in mind last year Glasgow were excellent in that game. I remember saying at the time I wasn’t sure if even us at our best could have won that game, I’m not sure we would.
“So there was a disappointment we didn’t play as well as we could have done and that really soured that experience for me.
“I know there is a hunger in the squad this year that we want to give it our best shot this weekend. The task in front of us is a difficult one. There’s only ever been two away semi-final wins in the history of the Pro14, both by Scarlets. I know the difficulty of the task but we want to give it a better shot than last year.”
Scotstoun was a cauldron that night but McFarland doesn’t believe being behind closed doors on Saturday will have much bearing. “What is it that a crowd gives a team? Maybe it gives the home team a little bit more juice,” he said. “But really I think we also did a disservice to the players themselves and their desire to win matches. When it’s a semi-final you don’t really need more motivation than that.”
Ulster are monitoring a trio of Ireland stars with a combined 61 caps. Flanker Jordi Murphy, full-back Jacob Stockdale and centre Stuart McCloskey are all concussion doubts.
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