Ulster coach backing Ospreys to be ready for Heineken Cup opener
ULSTER coach Mark Anscombe is backing the Ospreys to be right on top of their game when they head into a "good old ding-dong" against Leinster in the Heineken Cup on Saturday.
Anscombe's team took the Welsh region's ground record with an 18-12 success in Friday's clash at the Liberty.
But the New Zealander expects a big reaction from Steve Tandy's side as they head into Europe.
"They'll be smarting from this defeat and will not want to start Europe with a loss, so I think Ospreys will be right on their game on Saturday," he said.
"It's going to be a good old ding-dong, with two good teams having a crack at each other, as their draw a couple of weeks ago showed.
"Nothing will be any different this weekend."
Anscombe continued: "I was pleased to win in Swansea because the Ospreys don't give sides much. Look at their track record. That's their first loss this season and they haven't been beaten at home for a while.
"It's a great tune-up for Europe. Both teams have enormous games this weekend and we both needed a good challenge beforehand. So the game was good for us both. Hopefully, we'll both get the results this week.
"Certainly, we showed a lot of character to come back from 12-0 down.
"But I have enormous respect for the Ospreys team and for the organisation. They are a side who are near the top of the Pro12 because of their quality.
"The fact is they are going to be there in all competitions when it matters this year."
The Ospreys were nonetheless bitterly disappointed to go down at home a week before the onset of European rugby.
A crowd of 10,049 was lured to the Liberty, but they saw the Welsh region run into problems with Irish official Peter Fitzgibbon, whose decisions frustrated the players.
Skipper Alun Wyn Jones said after the game: "We're pretty disappointed. In the first half we defended really well. We were probably too comfortable defending and didn't get much attack going.
"We had a dream start to the second half with two quick penalties but then allowed them to come back into it and get the end result.
"It felt that the penalty count was going against us but we'll have to review it and see what we did right and wrong. We'll probably have to look at the set piece. It didn't function but we still had a lot of possession so we'll have to look at it.
"We bitterly disappointed that all these people came along and we didn't get the win. There's no doubt about it, we fell short."
Meanwhile, Leinster have said that star centre Brian O'Driscoll has a 50-50 chance of making the game because of a calf injury.
New Springbok signing Zane Kirchner has linked up with the squad in Dublin following his impressive showings in the Rugby Championship, but Aussie Lote Tuqiri is ruled out with a hamstring strain.