Belfast Telegraph

Heineken Cup: McLaughlin salutes Ulster’s team effort

Coach Brian McLaughlin broke with convention on Saturday evening by singling out Ian Humphreys for his part in Ulster’s 9-6 victory over Biarritz.

McLaughlin’s post-match norm when questioned by the media about the role of a given individual who has impressed is to stress that it is a team game to which all of involved have contributed.

But asked, “What won you that game?” his immediate reply was, “Ian Humphreys, with some smashing kicking off the ground.”

He did, however, hasten to highlight the role of others by adding: “And also an unbelievable will and trust that the guys had in each other to dig it out.”

Admitting that Ulster had been disappointed to see the French side double their lead on the stroke of half-time when a second Dimitri Yachvili penalty put them 6-0 up, McLaughlin explained: “We were relatively happy, though obviously we’d have been happier with 3-0, but if you look at our first-half we did what we said we would do.

“We kept the ball, though we were disappointed that having created a couple of opportunities we didn’t take them. We came out for the second-half and the wind seemed to drop a little bit, the rain disappeared and it just wasn’t as easy as maybe we thought.

“We stuck at it. Our defence for about 10 or 15 minutes on our own line midway through the second-half was unbelievable.

“We’ve talked about the trust that we have in each other, trust in our system and trust in our defence and there is no better example. It was outstanding.”

McLaughlin also highlighted the pay-off for Ulster having done their homework and come up with a winning formula.

“We talked about the opposition and reacting to their purple patch — we knew they’d have one — and we took that, we matched it, we got the turn-over, we got the penalty we needed and Ian put it over. That was fantastic.”

Clearly pleased with his side’s performance playing into the teeth of a Memorial End gale he said: “I think they way we played into the wind was excellent.”

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