Ulster’s coach and captain are targeting an improved performance at the RDS when they take on Leinster in the first of the Magners League Play-Offs.
The Irish giants meet for the third time this season as second plays third for the right to compete for the ultimate prize on Saturday, May 28.
Ulster arrive in Dublin on the back of eight wins in their last nine Magners League fixtures but their solitary defeat came at Friday’s venue less than a month ago.
Leinster were comfortable 34-26 winners that night thanks to a three-try haul in the opening 13 minutes and both Brian McLaughlin and Rory Best know their side can’t afford to hand their hosts the initiative this time around.
“We had a tough game at the RDS the last time we came down to Dublin and we will have to start much better than we did then,” said McLaughlin.
“We were out of the game after 20 minutes on that occasion and we have to start from the first whistle rather than half-time this week.
“We are pleased with the way the squad has developed and one of our main objectives for the season was to finish in the top four in the Magners League.
“But the RDS is an extremely difficult place to go to and we will be travelling looking for a bit of revenge for what happened against Leinster in the other two games this season. We want to give a better account of ourselves.”
Leinster are unbeaten at home this season and are currently being touted as the best team in Europe having reached a second Heineken Cup Final in three years.
But while squad skipper Best admits Ulster will arrive in Dublin as heavy under dogs, the Ireland hooker admits Friday presents exactly the kind of challenge his men were looking for at the beginning of the season.
“It’s a semi-final and it speaks for itself. We are under no illusions that we are underdogs going down to Dublin but this is where we wanted to be at the start of the season – the semi-finals and shooting for a place in the Grand Final,” added Best.
“We had one of our best performances in a half when we beat the Dragons to clinch the semi-final berth last week. We played very well in difficult conditions and played a lot of smart rugby.
“We are down about 40 points on aggregate to Leinster over the two games so far this season, though. We know Leinster are a very good side anywhere, but at the RDS they are especially hard to beat.
“But we’ve learned a few valuable lessons from our Heineken Cup quarter-final exit against Northampton Saints and we’re looking forward to Friday night.”