Magners League: Now Ulster must slay Dragons, says McLaughlin
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin last night accepted that if his players are to be in this season’s Magners League play-off semi-finals they must go to Newport and beat the Dragons, scoring four or more tries in the process.
“We just have to go to Dragons and do a job, simple as that,” said McLaughlin after last night’s 27-16 victory over Connacht at Ravenhill. “We’ll be doing our best to get the win over there, just like we had to fight tooth and nail to get that win tonight.
“We’re winning. At times the rugby we played was breath-taking and at other times it was poor, there’s no doubt about that.
“We have to look at that and look at the things we did poorly and the things we did well.
“The Dragons is an exceptionally tough game. We’ve already played them here so we know how difficult they are to beat.
“Over there they’re exceptionally difficult to play against so we’re under no illusions about how hard it’s going to be. But we feel that if we get everything right on the day we’ll be okay.”
But he was not kidding himself after watching another Ulster performance which was not quite up to scratch after an excellent start which saw them score and convert a sixth minute try. McLaughlin knows it was far short of the standard of which his men are capable.
“We’ve got to learn that we’ve got to be really ruthless and we’ve got to learn when to put the knife into these teams,” added the coach.
Rory Best defended referee JP Doyle, who came in for criticism from the home crowd.
“I thought he handled the game really well. He said the right things and he was very approachable at the right times,” said Best.
“We have to be very disappointed and critical of ourselves; there’s only so much the referee can do to protect you at ruck time if you don’t protect yourself.”
Explaining what Ulster have been through he added: “It has been a very physical and emotional 12 days with three games in that time. To come out of it with our first inter-pro win, and a win which takes a step closer to the semi-finals – we’ll know how much closer on Monday morning – showed a lot of character.”