Tigers seek some home comfort
November 18, 2011
Ian Humphreys scored all of his side's points in last weekend's win over Clermont © Getty Images
With Leicester Tigers currently struggling horribly at home and Ulster notoriously poor travellers, something has to give when the two collide at Welford Road on Saturday evening in a pivotal Heineken Cup Pool 4 encounter.
Leicester have yet to win a single game in their own backyard in the Aviva Premiership this season and their failure to pick up a try-scoring bonus point in their Heineken Cup opener against Italian minnows Aironi last weekend has done little to lift their spirits ahead of the visit of a buoyant Ulster side.
The Irish outfit are buzzing on the back of their stirring come-from-behind victory over Top 14 heavyweights Clermont Auvergne in round one but the fact that they have lost their last eight away games in the Heineken Cup underlines that they can ill afford to be overconfident.
Leicester Tigers - Player to Watch: Tom Croft is one of the men mooted as a possible future England captain and in a week where we have seen Martin Johnson depart from HQ, expect Croft to showcase his skills on Europe's biggest stage.
Leicester Tigers - Team News: The Tigers make just one change to the side which overcame Aironi with Horacio Agulla starting on the wing in place of Niall Morris - who is relegated to the bench. Ben Youngs is among the replacements for the first time this year while Rob Hawkins takes the hooker spot on the bench in place of Tom Youngs.
Ulster - Player to Watch: Johann Muller had a frustrating World Cup due to injury but back at Ulster and on the European stage, the Springboks lock will aim to disrupt as much Tigers line-out ball as possible.
Ulster - Team News: Ulster make two changes to the side which overcame Clermont with both alterations forced. John Afoa has returned back to New Zealand to be best man at Jerome Kaino's wedding so will miss the clash with Declan Fitzpatrick getting the nod while Nevin Spence starts in the centres in place of the injured Paddy Wallace.
Key Battle: Julian Salvi starts at openside and faces a mammoth battle with Chris Henry and Stephen Ferris on the opposing side. Salvi goes about his business without fuss and although he has a tendancy to give away penalties, he has the ability to snuffle up any turnover ball on offer.
Trivia: Leicester Tigers are the only side to have successfully defended the Heineken Cup, having lifted the title in 2001 and 2002
Stats: Leicester are unbeaten in 16 games at home in the Heineken Cup
"These are the deciding games of the season and if we come away with two from two and with eight or nine points then that will be a huge plus."
"We'll be travelling to Welford Road full of confidence and thinking that we can win that game. Because we feel that, even when we go away from home, we've got the quality to beat teams."
Prediction: Leicester will prevail by a narrow margin against a resilient Ulster side
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
With just two rounds left in the 2014 championship, the intensity cranks up a notch at Twickenham. Tom Hamilton previews the weekend's action
"I had a perfect record against England as did a few other Welshmen. England always seemed to bring the best out of us." John Taylor on the age-old rivalry