McLaughlin sets sights on euro glory
April 28, 2012
Ulster's Ruan Pienaar and Pedrie Wannenburg celebrate reaching the Heineken Cup Final © Getty Images
Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin insisted there is more to come from his side after they battled to a 22-19 victory over Edinburgh to reach the Heineken Cup final.
"We are delighted to be where we are. It was exceptionally tough," said McLaughlin, who is leaving the role at the end of the season to move into an academy position. "We knew it was going to be like that. Edinburgh threw everything at us. They did not make it easy to play.
"We are looking forward to getting to Twickenham and showing we can dog it out like we did today but also we are a very capable rugby side. We were ruthless in the first half. We had one opportunity and got seven points from it.
"Ruan [Pienaar] was outstanding. In the second half we got more possession, more territory and the opportunities came. The one thing that pleased me was the set scrum, it was outstanding. All credit to the forwards. They scrummaged exceptionally well. It was an outstanding effort when we had 14 guys on the pitch. We won that period 3-0. We looked as if we still had 15 on the pitch."
McLaughlin also paid tribute to the 40,000-plus Ulster fans who streamed into Dublin and made the Aviva Stadium a home from home: "It was an unforgettable experience and one that will live with me for the rest of my days.
Edinburgh knocked out Toulouse in order to reach their first Heineken Cup semi-final and they produced another spirited European performance. Despite being distinctly second best in the set-piece, they did create chances but they could not apply the finishing touches.
"We are disappointed and a little bit frustrated," said boss Michael Bradley. "We had enough opportunities to build a bigger points total than we did. In the second half Ulster shut us down a little bit more. They stifled our ability to play attacking rugby. Ulster got the upper hand in the scrum but we had chances to win the game."
Edinburgh's European form has been in stark contrast to their RaboDirect PRO12 performance, where the club sit second from bottom in the table. But they were the first Scottish team ever to reach the last four in Europe's premier competition.
"Edinburgh Rugby has taken a positive step forward," Bradley said. "There are areas we have to improve. There is young talent coming through and quality international players with a burning desire to win something. When you get to the latter stages of cup competitions it is about taking more chances than the opposition."
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