Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Ulster 10 - 7 Ospreys: Anscombe is left to monitor wounded aces

Lock out: Injuries to second row personnel mean that Johann Muller is one of Ulster's few recognised locks

Ulster are facing a second-row crisis as a result of injuries picked up at the weekend.

Friday night's hard-won 10-7 PRO12 victory over the Ospreys came at a price, with Lewis Stevenson suffering a neck injury. Then, the following afternoon Dan Tuohy broke his arm while on Irish duty against Wales.

Stevenson's injury will be assessed today and Tuohy can expect to be sidelined for six to eight weeks. A knock-on effect is that his absence from the Ireland squad is likely to see Iain Henderson upgraded.

If so, that would leave Johann Muller and Neil McComb as Ulster's only genuine locks.

"Lewis hurt his neck, so he'd be a concern that we've got to monitor to see how he backs up after that," coach Mark Anscombe said.

"We've got to take it on the chin and hopefully get things sorted out for next week," was Anscombe's assessment following this latest success which keeps Ulster on track for a top four finish.

The Kiwi's post-match demeanour suggested that his players are in for some pretty demanding work ahead of Friday night's home date with Scarlets.

For although Ulster leap-frogged over Ospreys, they did not impress.

"I suppose if you want to put a positive spin on it, we got a win, but I'd be battling to find a lot of other things that were positive about that," Anscombe said.

His fellow-Kiwi, tight-head John Afoa was equally forthright.

The 2011 World Cup-winning All Black said: "When we turned up on Monday we wanted a big improvement from our set-piece. It has been going well but we were looking to get that last 5 per cent to give quality to the backs.

"We prepared all week with our line-out and scrum, looking to use that as a platform, but with the weather the line-out didn't operate well. The wind made it hard for the throwers.

"And the scrum was getting a bit loose, with a lot of foot-movement due to the conditions.

"Like Mark said, it was a win, but we've just got to draw a line under it and just makes sure it's better again. We've got a couple of Welsh teams in this block and they all play very similar.

"We've got to make sure that we're going to be better next week because the Scarlets muscled us in their home game earlier in the year, so it's another big week for us.

"Everyone is disappointed with the way they played. Even in wet weather we should still have been able to control the ball, but that second half (we were) missing tackles, kicking the ball wily-nilly, no pressure on the chase.

"We escaped that one and we've just got to be better."

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