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Magners League: It’s still a work in progress, says Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin

By Niall Crozier

While he was happy to have emerged victorious from Stadio Luigi Zaffanella having just seen his side win 22-15, Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin wasn’t getting carried away.

“We played with a lot of fire and we showed a lot of courage, there’s no doubt about that. We’re really pleased to have got out of there with a win and knowing that we can play better is a bonus for us,” he said.

But there were specific performance-related qualifications to his overall satisfaction with the result, for whilst glad to have won there was a realisation that the outcome could have been different.

The scrum and line-out, for example, continue to concern him.

“The inconsistency of our setpiece is something we’re going to have to look at. We’re giving away a lot of frees at scrums. Our line-out in vital areas wasn’t what it should be,” he pointed out.

“We turned over ball and we didn’t fully turn the screw at times when we had them under pressure in their own half.”

Those were views shared by captain Johann Muller.

“I think you have to put things in perspective,” he said.

“It was their (Aironi’s) first home game and they came out on fire, really wanting to play well in front of their own supporters so they were always going to be everywhere.”

Significantly the big South African added: “We didn’t show any of our hand ahead of the Heineken Cup,” a reference to the fact that Ulster will host these same Italians at Ravenhill on Friday, October 8 having been paired with them in Pool 4 of that competition.

“And we have to take the positives out of it.

“I think a lot of the guys put their hands up in the last five minutes and showed what the team is about and what our tenets are about.”

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