McLaughlin lauds Ulster defence
January 15, 2011
Ulster fly-half Ian Humphreys celebrates with Paddy Wallace at full-time following his game-winning penalty © Getty Images
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin was full of praise for the resilience his side displayed during Saturday's crucial 9-6 Heineken Cup victory over Biarritz at Ravenhill.
The province trailed by six points at the break, following two penalties from Dimitri Yachvili, but Ian Humphreys' boot had drawn the home side level by the hour before the fly-half put the seal on a stirring comeback with a stunning kick from inside his own half in the dying minutes.
Humphreys was understandably Ulster's man of the hour but McLaughlin felt that every single player in white deserved credit for the way in which they had stood up to their Basque rivals and managed to hold them scoreless after the interval.
"Our defence on our line halfway through the second half was unbelievable," McLaughlin said. "We've talked long and hard about the trust we have in each other and the trust in our system.
"Our defence was outstanding and we forced the error. We took their purple patch and we matched it. We got the turnover and got the penalty we needed and Ian put it over, which was fantastic."
Ulster are now tied with Biarritz at the summit of Pool 4, with the Basques holding on to top spot courtesy of their superior head-to-head record. However, Ulster are well placed to at least progress as one of the best runners-up given they face Italian minnows Aironi away next weekend.
"We know it's not entirely in our hands, but the fact is that we got the win today in exceptionally tough conditions," McLaughlin said. "We know we have to go to Aironi. We're under no illusions we've got to go there and get the win and if we get a bonus point even better.
"We can't do anything about [Biarritz's last game at home to Bath] and we have to hope that Bath go there and do a good job. But we can't worry about that we've got to take care of business ourselves."
Ireland prop Tom Court was also preaching caution after the game but he was enthused by his side's display nonetheless.
"This is the biggest win Ulster have had ever since I've been here and it means everything to us," he said. "For us it was just a matter of staying tight and tough and keeping the discipline.
"But unfortunately the job is not done yet. We're neck and neck with Biarritz on points and there's still another week to go. Even though we needed to win today, obviously we can't start celebrating and getting too ahead of ourselves."
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