Edinburgh flanker determined to win Ferris battle26/04/2012 - 15:55:34
Flanker David Denton is optimistic of winning his crucial battle with opposite number Stephen Ferris as Edinburgh seek to overcome Ulster on Saturday to secure a place in the Heineken Cup final.
For Edinburgh’s attacking force – lauded throughout a stellar competition for Michael Bradley’s men – to be in evidence in the semi-final at the Aviva Stadium, forward momentum is of paramount importance.
A key battleground which must be won if Edinburgh are to advance to the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham on May 19 is Denton’s duel with Ferris, the Ireland and British Lions blindside flanker.
“I’ve always been confident in my own ability and this weekend’s a great test for me,” Denton said.
“Ferris is one of the best, if not the best, blindsides in the world at the moment. He’s a great player.
“When he gets on the front foot you can see the team rally behind him. I think if I can get on top of him there we’ll stand a good chance.
“I’ve played against Ferris before and a very strong Irish back row and I didn’t feel out of my depth.
“That’s important. If you can go into a game feeling confident in your own ability and your team’s ability, that’s the first step.”
Denton, though, is well aware Ferris is not the only obstacle in Edinburgh’s way, with South Africa internationals Ruan Pienaar and Stefan Terblanche and Ireland Test duo Andrew Trimble and Rory Best among Ulster’s stars.
Ulster’s strengths were illustrated in the two RaboDirect PRO12 meetings this season, which ended in distant defeat for Edinburgh.
Asked if the 42-20 and 38-16 losses have any significance on Saturday’s match, Denton said: “For one reason or another the Heineken Cup’s been going really well for us this year.
“It’s where we’ve come together as a team and shown what we’re capable of. In the Rabo we haven’t.
“We’re aware of them (the Ulster losses) in the same way that we’re aware we haven’t had a very successful RaboDirect season.
“If anything it shows how strong they can be so we’re not going to be underestimating them.
“Ulster are a very strong team. They’ve got a lot of strength in depth and a lot of good players. They play a good style of rugby. Their defence particularly is very strong.
“It’s going to be a tough game for us, but we showed we could do it against Toulouse and everyone knows how well we can attack when we’re on song.
“If we can play close to our best, we’re well capable of beating them.
“It’s going to be a big battle for us but it’s one we can definitely win.”
Denton pointed to Edinburgh’s own match winners, among them captain Greig Laidlaw, who is set to line up at fly-half in the team poised to be announced tomorrow.
Head coach Bradley is unlikely to make any changes from the side which secured the semi-final berth with a 19-14 win over four-time champions Toulouse three weeks’ ago.
Mike Blair, in his final season as an Edinburgh player, is set to be named at scrum-half, behind a back-row of Denton, Ross Rennie and Netani Talei.
The front five is expected to be comprised of Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Grant Gilchrist and Sean Cox, with Matt Scott and Nick De Luca at centre, Tim Visser and Lee Jones on the wing and Tom Brown at full-back.
Brown’s selection means Chris Paterson, Scotland’s record points scorer and most-capped player, is likely to have to settle for a place on the replacements’ bench at best.
Paterson was on kicking tee duty against Toulouse, with Jim Thompson preferred as a substitute.
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