Ulster coach Matt Williams admitted relief was the overriding emotion in the home changing room after his side broke their Magners League duck with a 13-9 win over Edinburgh at Ravenhill last night.
A converted try by David Pollock and two penalties by Clinton Schifcofske, who had a troubled night with his boot again, was enough to end Ulster’s miserable losing streak, and the province moved off the bottom of the table with Connacht not playing Leinster until tomorrow.
Ulster dominated large parts of the game, playing with real fire in their bellies for the first time this season but still found it difficult to put Edinburgh away.
The visitors kept in touch with two penalties by David Blair and one from Phil Godman but after the defeats to the Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons and the Ospreys, Ulster finally held on for a priceless victory to give hope for their Heineken Cup campaign, which gets under way against Stade Francais at Ravenhill next Saturday.
Williams said: “It was exactly the same as the other three games that we lost apart from the Ospreys.
“We dominated the game, our scrum was dominant, our defence was excellent — we only missed eight tackles and once you get below 10 you generally win — and our penalty count was reasonable.
“Both teams were tense. Again, just like the Dragons and Cardiff, we should have put the game away much earlier but at the 80th minute they could have scored a try and won it.
“From the way we played, it just tells you we are still playing with a lot of tension and worry and fear, so in the changing room afterwards, we said ‘Thank God that is over.’
“There was happiness and joy but it is the relief of the tension that is the main thing.”
Ulster also managed to avoid any serious injury concerns, and with Paddy Wallace expected to be fit for the Stade game, Williams should have almost a full hand to pick from.
“We are working so hard and you just can’t fault the players effort,” added Williams. “And the big thing is you get energy and a shot in the arm from winning. We desperately needed it and we can now look forward to the Stade game.”