McLaughlin critical in defeat
December 18, 2010
Matt Carraro gave Bath an early lead but Ulster hit back strongly © Getty Images
Ulster will meet Biarritz in a Pool Four showdown in a month's time after another epic 26-22 Heineken Cup victory at Bath but head coach Brian McLaughlin has warned his side they must not lose focus.
Tries in each half from Adam D'Arcy and Nevin Spence and a superb kicking display by fly-half Ian Humphreys, who booted 16 points, were enough to give the Irish side back-to-back victories over their West Country hosts, who are now all but out of the competition.
The win puts Ulster three points behind Biarritz at the top of the pool, but McLaughlin has warned his side they must return their attentions to their Magners League aspirations with a busy festive period on the horizon.
"We've got two big games coming up in the Magners - at home to Leinster on the day after Boxing Day and Munster in Limerick on New Year's Day," he said. "The big games just keep coming."
And, despite the win, McLaughlin was not overly impressed by his side's performance. "We are just very happy to have a win today," he said. "We knew we had a tough job. In the first few minutes we looked a bit ropey but we clawed our way back to 14-13.
"Actually, I didn't think we played that well today. Bath put us under ferocious pressure at times. We upped the intensity though and we cut our cloth a bit in the second half, playing a wee bit more the percentages. We knuckled down and knew what we had to do. If we had control we had a chance.
"I said to the players afterwards: 'We've done nothing yet'. We've just got to keep winning." A Matt Carraro try and three Olly Barkley penalties had put Bath 14-13 up at the break, but a fine Matt Banahan try after the interval was not enough to prevent them from falling to defeat. Coach Steve Meehan could not hide his frustration after seeing his men fail to capitalise on a winning position.
"It's very frustrating. The Heineken Cup is a competition in which if you don't play for the full 80 minutes, you're not going to win your games," he said. "We gave them the opportunity to score 10 points in the first half when we should have cleared our lines. We are well aware that if we had played throughout with the intensity we showed at times, we should have run out comfortable winners. For whatever reason, that's just not happening."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene