Heineken Cup: Better late than never for Ulster hero Ian
Ulster three-goal hero Ian Humphreys revealed that he did not know how close it was to full-time when he lined up his match-winning penalty against Biarritz Olympique on Saturday evening.
He also explained that the extra after-training kicking practice he and his half-back partner Ruan Pienaar put in had paid dividends when it mattered.
The Ulster fly-half — who had earlier missed a first-half effort into the gale before his 48th and 60th minute goals tied the scores at 6-6 — kicked what proved to be the crucial third out of four from two metres inside his own half.
“To be honest I probably didn’t realise. I though there was a bit more time left,” he admitted.
And he was modest about the quality of that decisive kick, adding: “Fortunately for me I got it up in the air and the wind did the rest.”
Pienaar, from whom Humphreys has taken over as Ulster’s number one place-kicker, held the ball on the tee as the number 10 delivered the coup de grace.
“As I said to Ruan, that’s what we’re doing out there every day after everybody’s gone home. You just bring it back to that; it’s what we do on the training pitch, as if we’re having a wee competition against one another and just trying to knock it over,” he added.
Prop Tom Court, who performed heroically in the home pack, admitted it had been a tough test and that Biarritz’s forwards had provided a massive challenge, not least mid-way through the second half when they appeared to be gaining control.
One passage in particular saw them force Ulster back almost 40 metres as they went through the phases.
“I think that really drained the petrol out of the tank for a lot of the forwards,” he admitted. “They (Biarritz) are a very experienced side. They’re very patient, good with the ball in hand going forward with pick-and-go slow play.
“We just had to stick it out and make sure we weren’t giving penalties away because anywhere within 40 metres, especially which Dachvili there, they’re going to come away with points, even with the wind in their faces.
“It was just a matter of staying tight, staying tough and keeping our discipline,” said Court, at 19st 3lb the heaviest member of the Ulster pack.
“That’s the biggest win Ulster have had in my time here and it means everything to us,” he added.