Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Ulster Rugby lucky to get victory, says Anscombe

Ulster's Stuart Olding (left) and Andrew Trimble (right) with Northern Ireland's Michael O'Neill and Jim Magilton, who were guests of Campbell Fitzpatrick Solicitors

AS usual, Mark Anscombe pretty much called it as he saw it and, though thankful for the four points, he readily admitted that now second-placed Ulster simply hadn't performed to the required level.

"We dodged a bullet there," the Ulster coach said after his side had battled their way to their 13-6 victory at a wind and rain lashed Ravenhill to end a segment of four straight games against Italian sides – Zebre twice in the PRO12 book-ending their two big wins over Treviso in Europe.

"We didn't play well but we'll bounce on and we'll now have to lift the bar," he added, looking ahead to Saturday's next clash with Leinster in Dublin.

"That was a tough game and the fact is that getting up and performing the week after Heinekens is traditionally tough.

"They never make it easy for us," Anscombe said before adding, "Even when you make changes we have enough experience here to demand a bit more of ourselves.

"It's a process we've got to look at it but it was a poor performance, but we got the win."

The coach also had praise for Paddy Wallace after his first game back since suffering a serious knee injury last February.

"It's been a long year for him and he'll be better for his 60-odd minutes. He's still got a lot to offer us and it's good that he's got the confidence now with a few games under his belt. With a few more he'll be better for it," he said.

With Ulster also having to deploy pretty much the same resources for next Saturday's clash with Leinster, Anscombe still praised his side's defensive effort at the end of the first-half and even threw in a notable statistic regarding the last time his squad conceded a try – to Zebre last month in Italy as it happens.

"I thought the defence there at one stage before half-time was pleasing and I think it gives us 267 minutes now without a try scored against us so that's pleasing.

"And that's what you want and the boys fought on the goal-line just before half-time but that attitude we showed there for five minutes wasn't the attitude that we showed for the other 75 or so," Anscombe said.

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