Belfast Telegraph

RaboDirect Pro12: McLaughlin thrilled as Ulster reach summit

By Michael Sadlier

Three league wins in a row and Ulster now sit top of the table; not a bad result for Brian McLaughlin’s side and the Ulster coach was understandably pleased at the outcome.

Indeed, last night’s win impressively stretches Ulster’s home record to nine wins in a row with the last time they were beaten being at the start of the year when Munster did a job on them back on New Year’s Day.

More importantly, though, McLaughlin’s men have continued their winning march this season — with new boy Jared Payne looking impressive on his debut — and the Ulster coach, though there were a few complaints at the side not pushing on too far from their 17-0 half time advantage, praised his squad’s efforts in typically difficult and testing Ravenhill conditions.

“To beat Cardiff here and to go top of the league, we’re exceptionally happy with the result,” a delighted McLaughlin said.

“In the second half we didn’t play with the same intensity but it was pretty windy out there and there were difficult conditions.

“We were playing against a fairly strong breeze and yes we made some errors but we were trying to play.

“We were two tries up and we wanted to try and play and we’re a little bit disappointed we should have had more points on the board but, here, it’s Cardiff we’re playing it’s a 20-3 victory and we can’t be too critical of that.”

McLaughlin also praised his side for their approach when the points started to dry up in the second half and was clearly pleased that they stuck to their task and saw the job through in a professional manner.

“We talked all week about being patient,” the Ulster coach said.

“Last year when we played these guys they were the two most patient games of rugby we played all year.

“We knew that if we could just be patient the opportunities would come.

“One of our tries was an unbelievable set-piece play and all credit to Neil (Neil Doak, backs coach) and the lads they polished it off superbly.”

It wasn’t all positive news despite the convincing performance as on the injury front, Ulster lost double try scorer Cave and Ian Humphreys to leg and shoulder injuries respectively which could be problematic ahead of their game at the Ospreys on Sunday week.

“It was in the match plan tonight that Cave would come off he’s played an awful lot and we just wanted to make sure that he’s ok so we’re just a little bit concerned as he has a bump on the leg,” added McLaughlin.

“Ian’s taken a bad bruising to the shoulder and we’re hoping that’s all it is,” the Ulster coach added after the Ulster out half took a late hit.

Belfast Telegraph

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