Belfast Telegraph

Magners League: Ulster need to click into gear again, says Pienaar

By Ciaran Donaghy

Ulster 25 Dragons 23: There is an old adage in sport that good teams win when they play badly and Ulster lived up to that on Friday night as South African Ruan Pienaar dropped a goal with the last kick of the game to beat the Dragons.

The 25-23 win moves Ulster up to fourth in the Magners League with only five games left.

The lead changed hands three times in the last five minutes as first Darren Cave's converted try put Ulster in front only for the Dragons out-half Jason Tovey to drop a goal in the 79th minute which appeared to have won it for the Welsh before Pienaar's late dramatics.

In Llanelli Ulster left it late and against Aironi and the Dragons at Ravenhill they have scrapped wins but have taken 12 points from all three of those games and with the Six Nations ending on Saturday, coach Brian McLaughlin's squad will remain unhindered by international call-ups to the end of the season.

Pienaar won the game at the Scarlets with a long range penalty and he was delighted to be the match-winner again but knows that Ulster will need to lift there performance for the remainder of the campaign.

“I don't get many opportunities to drop goals and it wasn't the prettiest but at least it went over and we got the points,” stated Pienaar.

“Paul Marshall reminded me that we could go for a drop goal so I have to give the credit to him and we showed a lot of character at the end and it was a good result for us.

“We know it wasn't good enough against the Dragons and the performance against Aironi wasn't good enough, I know we had a young team against the Dragons but we expect more especially at Ravenhill.”

Ulster gave a glimpse of the future against the Dragons with a backline that included wingers Craig Gilroy and Conor Gaston, out-half Paddy Jackson and midfield pairing Nevin Spence and Luke Marshall and although Pienaar was the old man of the back division, having just turned 27 last week, he was impressed by the young guns.

“I felt a little bit old and I need Ian (Humphreys) to come back,” joked Pienaar.

“I think it's great to see the youth coming through, I think the guys stood up and played very well which is fantastic to see.”

Darren Cave marked his return to Ulster colours with a crucial try, the twice-capped Ireland centre has been sidelined since November with a hamstring injury and will be pushing for a place for this Friday's clash with Glasgow.

Lock Dan Tuohy also made his comeback from injury and was instrumental in helping Ulster secure the victory.

Glasgow are second bottom of the table but they will be bolstered by the return of their Scottish internationals for the visit of Ulster to Firhill. Sean Lineen's side struggled to beat Treviso at the weekend to claim their first win in seven outings in the league.

Ulster are two points clear of fifth-placed Cardiff but Dai Young's side have a game in hand.

Belfast Telegraph


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