Ulster 9-10 Northampton Saints, Heineken Cup
Anscombe: We can bounce back
December 15, 2012
Tommy Bowe looked to sustain a serious injury against Northampton © PA Photos
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe is adamant that his side can still qualify for the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup despite seeing his team slump to a 10-9 defeat to the Northampton Saints at Ravenhill on Saturday.
The result brought Ulster's 13-match winning run to an abrupt end but they are still five points clear at the top of Pool 4. Castres play Glasgow on Sunday and the French side can move to within two points of Anscombe's men if they secure a four-try win over the Warriors.
And Anscombe is still hopeful that his team have it in them to qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament. "It's sad because it's our first loss but we got beaten by a better team," Anscombe said. "We're still a good team and we'll bounce back. It happens and you've got to acknowledge it and respect it as they did well and deserved their victory. We've got to go back and look at what we need to do better.
"Our execution was poor and we suffered from it. They got 10 points up in the first 18 minutes. We held them out well but I think we created enough opportunities to score points and we weren't patient enough and didn't have enough composure at crucial times.
"We tried to force it and they brought a little more passion than us to start with. Their physicality at the start got them going. We weren't complacent but we were a little more passive early on and we created enough opportunities but we just weren't composed enough at crucial times and we didn't take our points when we had opportunities.
"Our destiny is still in our own hands," Anscombe said regarding the return to Heineken Cup action in January. "We're not relying on other teams to see how it goes, if we win our last two games we'll qualify. Not every team has that opportunity, we have and we need to take it."
Saints boss Jim Mallinder was delighted to see his team bounce back form their hammering at the hands of Ulster last Friday and singled out their pack for praise.
"We had the determination to put the last game right," Mallinder said. "We were bitterly disappointed with the first game and we got a lot of criticism from various places and I think as a team we were determined to put that right.
"The front five were outstanding. The set-piece went really well as did the breakdown. Last week we couldn't get any quick ball and we didn't get on the front foot at all. In this game from the start we were on the front foot with our forwards working really hard and we got some good width in our game.
"We could have possibly scored another couple of tries," he added. "If we look back over the full 80 minutes I thought we deserved it."
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