A TIMELY WIN for Ulster, and badly needed ahead of the visit of Montpellier in the Heineken Cup on Friday.
Following the feeble performance last weekend against Leinster at the RDS, the northern province were in great need of a response as Munster rolled into town. The first 40 minutes provided exactly that and Mark Anscombe’s side ran out deserved 29-19 winners.
The Kiwi head coach was satisfied to see his charges use their possession with efficiency, particularly in the first half. Ulster may only have had a 40% share of the ball at Ravenhill, but they were wonderful incisive in that time.
I was really impressed with how we used the ball. I think we found holes, we looked after the ball. We made good decisions and we played at the right end of the park. I think we played some good football.
“We missed a couple of tries and we scored a couple. So I thought there was some really good footy played in that first half.”
This victory will mean a welcome “bit of confidence” for Ulster according to Anscombe, while he wasn’t overly concerned with the manner Munster’s pack dominated the maul after the interval. Rob Penney’s men scored two tries from line-outs close in to Ulster’s try-line, and Anscombe says respect needs to be paid.
“I know Munster had a couple of guys out, but their forward pack is a pretty formidable forward pack. We allowed them to score a try just before half time, which gave them confidence and the ascendancy to go into the second half.
“They got that line-out maul going, which is pretty impressive and a hard thing to stop. We did a good enough job on it, and we did stop the last one which is most important. Then we had an outstanding scrum on our goal-line, so we come away with the points.”
Darren Cave gets outside Felix Jones to score for Ulster. ©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd.
Many will argue with the Ulster coach’s assertion that his pack defended the maul well, but it is true that Anscombe’s side emerged with the deserved four points. The visitors almost managed to grab a losing bonus point, but Ruan Pienaar’s late penalty denied them that consolation.
Anscombe believes that Munster may not have even been close to saving a point if certain refereeing decisions had gone his side’s way. Craig Gilroy and Andrew Trimble were both impeded off the ball on separate occasions following Ulster line-breaks, acts which Anscombe felt deserved punishment.
“Interesting one [the Gilroy incident]. It’s hard to say; it looks as though he was taken out. Also when Cavey [Darren Cave] showed a good turn of pace, lit up and ran through, Trimby was inside him and just got taken out, right in front of the ref.
I’ve got no understanding of why nothing came of that. He was clearly taken out, you guys saw it; who didn’t? Well one person didn’t.”
Attention now turns to the Heineken Cup visit of Montpellier on Friday, with Anscombe pleased that Ulster are in control of their own European future. With two games left, the northern province are top of Pool 5 thanks to four wins from four.
“One thing you want going into Europe is confidence. If we’d have got turned over tonight, back-to-back, no matter what you say, it does have an effect. We know what we’re capable of doing and what we need to do.
“As I’ve said before, what we want is to have our destiny in our own hands and it still is. We’re at the right end of the table in the Rabo and we have a break there now. We know clearly what we have to do in our last two Heineken Cup games but like I said we don’t have to, at this stage, wake up and hope another result goes our way.
“We’ve got a job on our hands, which we’ll address on Monday. We’ll go back doing that and play Montpellier here on Friday. Our destiny is in our hands.”
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