Ulster v Edinburgh, Heineken Cup semi-final, April 28
Edinburgh accept underdog tag
April 23, 2012
Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley accepts his side are up against it on Saturday © Getty Images
Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley admits his side are overwhelming underdogs going into this weekend's Heineken Cup semi-final showdown with Ulster.
It will be first time that Edinburgh have graced the final four and they will also be handing home advantage of sorts to their rivals with the game set for the Aviva Stadium in Dublin - a familiar stage for many of Ulster's internationals.
In addition, they face a side that ran in six tries against them during a 38-16 RaboDirect PRO12 mauling last month. That completed a league double following a similarly emphatic 42-20 at Murrayfield earlier in the season.
A 38-13 reverse to Cardiff Blues in their latest PRO12 outing on Sunday added to the gloom although Edinburgh fielded their second string. "Everyone's looking forward to it although I accept that Ulster will be favourites and will have the majority of the crowd behind them," Bradley told The Scotsman. "The majority of their players will be used to playing in the stadium too.
"That's fine for us, we are well used to being the underdog. We will have a good following coming over from Edinburgh and I'm sure there will be Scottish connections in and around Dublin. Oh, and potentially a couple of Munster people too! And as I've always said anything can happen. I think we have proven this year that on any given day, if things go well for us, we are a very, very dangerous. That's the confidence we will have going into the game."
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Bradley was even more bullish. "There is as much talent in this group of players as there is in any side left in the competition. The basics of what we have to do were on show in the quarter-final where our defence shut out Toulouse in the second half. There aren't many sides who can say that. Ulster have been the form side in the competition from about mid November onwards. They've recruited well in the last couple of years and they've put together a side that is built to win trophies. But if we play to our potential we won't fear anybody."
Bradley also believes his side need only look to their previous results in the competition if they need reassurance. "The key strength for Edinburgh Rugby is that from 1 to 15 that they can all play football and that has been the standout feature for us. Go back to the two matches against both Racing Metro 92 and London Irish and to beat both those sides twice we needed to play good football and that is what we achieved in all those games.
"As for Ulster, from 1 to 15 they are very efficient in what they do and very effective in how they do it - and quite a physical side. The intensity they brought to the quarter-final against Munster was a special performance and they are capable of producing very big results. In the Pool stages they destroyed Leicester and also turned over Clermont at Ravenhill and they did that with a fair degree of panache, along with the quality of player they have.
"Naturally I am delighted and very proud of what the Edinburgh have achieved so far but we have to be pretty calculating on our assessment of what potentially lies ahead. We have a great opportunity here. If we play like we did against Toulouse and close to our best we will trouble them and it will be up to them to deal with us. We are looking ahead with a lot of confidence and a fair degree of excitement as well."
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