Pro14 semi-final: Glasgow Warriors v Ulster

Fit-again Luke Marshall (left) credits Ulster skills coach Dan Soper with getting him in great shape for the season run-in
Fit-again Luke Marshall (left) credits Ulster skills coach Dan Soper with getting him in great shape for the season run-in
Pro14 semi-final : Glasgow v Ulster
Date: Friday, 17 May Venue: Scotstoun, Glasgow Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on Radio Ulster FM & MW and the BBC Sport website

Luke Marshall says Ulster are in a much better place mentally for their return to Scotstoun for Friday's Pro14 semi-final against Glasgow Warriors.

Ulster lost 30-7 away to Glasgow in a Pro14 game last month but have since beaten Edinburgh, Leinster and Connacht to reach a first semi-final since 2016.

"This is a good chance to hopefully get revenge," said Marshall.

"We were probably feeling sorry for ourselves last time, coming off a loss to Leinster in the Champions Cup."

Ulster emptied the tank in the Champions Cup quarter-final defeat at the Aviva Stadium and struggled to compete with Glasgow the following week.

They have previous with Glasgow too, having narrowly lost a memorable Pro12 semi-final at Scotstoun in 2015.

"Hopefully it will make a difference going in with a bit confidence of a play-off win (over Connacht) behind us," Marshall said.

"We went there last month a week after losing to Leinster thinking we should have been looking forward to a European semi-final.

"They were coming off a big loss too against Saracens but were obviously well motivated.

"We know if we play to the full ability we have, we can get a result, but we have nothing to lose really. They're the ones who finished top of their Conference and they're expected to go through."

Marshall's timely return

A brave try-saving tackle in the corner against the Ospreys last May helped secure Champions Cup rugby for Ulster this season, but it came at a personal loss to Marshall.

The 28-year-old ruptured his ACL which wiped out the next 10 months, but he has made an instant impact on his return with an impressive cameo against Leinster as well as big performances in recent Pro14 games.

"It's been good to get back on the pitch again and my timing was pretty good, I got lucky," Marshall said.

"I think I got playing in that [Champions Cup] quarter-final just by default - there were so many injuries, I was probably the only man left standing.

"From watching the boys since the start of the season it's been amazing how much we've kicked on from last season.

"Everyone wanted to move on and it's been great for squad development to see so many young boys coming through and really playing well and putting their hands up for selection.

"I'm just lucky to be a part of it now at the end of the season."

Luke Marshall earned the first of his 11 caps for Ireland in 2013
Luke Marshall earned the first of his 11 caps for Ireland in 2013

One moment he'd prefer to forget since his comeback was the fumble against Glasgow six weeks ago.

With a try at his mercy, Marshall was caught out by the quick-thinking Tommy Seymour who knocked the ball out of his hand.

Marshall and Ulster have every incentive to upset the odds, given it is 13 seasons since they lifted a trophy, the old Celtic League in 2006.

Darren Cave and captain Rory Best, the last surviving link to that team, are retiring at the end of the season and silverware would be the perfect send-off.

Marshall said: "You always find yourself, just whenever you have a bit of free time, thinking about what it would be like to lift a trophy over in Celtic Park in the final.

"You've got to, that's the motivation at the end of the day.

"We're not thinking past the semi-final but you have to imagine how good it would be, because it's so long since we've won a trophy."