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McLaughlin hails Ulster defence

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin hailed his side's second-half defensive effort after Ian Humphreys kept their Heineken Cup hopes alive with a last-gasp penalty to secure a 9-6 win over Biarritz at Ravenhill.

Their European fate now hangs on next weekend's final round of games as Ulster and Biarritz, who grabbed a vital losing bonus point, sit joint top of Pool Four with 17 points each. The French side hold the trump card - thanks to a better head-to-head record - should the sides still be level after next weekend's games.

"Our defence on our line halfway through the second half was unbelievable," said McLaughlin. "We've talked long and hard about the trust we have in each other and the trust in our system,"

He added: "Our defence was outstanding and we forced the error. We took their purple patch and we matched it. We got the turnover and got the penalty we needed and Ian put it over, which was fantastic."

McLaughlin refused to criticise his players for botching two try-scoring opportunities in the opening 40 minutes when the conditions were at their worst and Ulster trailed 6-0 after playing into the storm.

"I think the way we played into the wind (in the first half) was excellent," he said. "It was just unfortunate that a couple of times we spilled in the wrong areas.

"But it was exceptionally tough out there with the wind and rain. It's not easy but we should have taken one of them (the two chances that fell to Adam D'Arcy)."

On his side's chances of qualification, McLaughlin said: "We know it's not entirely in our hands, but the fact is that we got the win today in exceptionally tough conditions.

"We know we have to go to Aironi. We're under no illusions we've got to go there and get the win and if we get a bonus point even better.

"We can't do anything about [Biarritz's last game at home to Bath] and we have to hope that Bath go there and do a good job. But we can't worry about that we've got to take care of business ourselves."

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