McCloskey celebrates his 100th cap with crucial score as Ulster bring down Ospreys
Ulster centurion Stuart McCloskey declared the win more important than his milestone try in Wales last night.
McCloskey was the game-winner against Ospreys in Newport, marking his 100th cap with that try before John Cooney's late penalty sealed the 8-0 triumph.
The victory temporarily lifts Ulster back into the play-off spots in the Guinness PRO14's Conference B but McCloskey was happy to right the wrongs of the home draw with Benetton three weeks ago.
"We knew it would be tight," he said. "The Ospreys have one of the best defences in the league.
"But we put on a good show in defence and it was hard to break Ospreys down."
McCloskey continued: “We wanted to bounce back from the Treviso result three weeks ago and now we’ll look at Zebre.
“I’m delighted to get 100 caps for the province I grew up supporting and hopefully I get a few more.”
Ulster attack coach Dwayne Peel was thrilled for match-winner McCloskey.
“He was excellent,” said the former Wales scrum-half. “Anyone who watches us knows how big he is for us. He fully deserves his 100th cap.”
And while Peel was pleased with the win, he would have liked to see his side make lighter work of things by taking two of the good chances created in the first half.
McCloskey had looked to slip Angus Kernohan in only for the young winger to fumble the pass and the former himself knocked on soon after.
“We’re fairly pleased with aspects of the game on the whole,” Peel added. “We put them under pressure. They’ve a good defence, we spoke about that during the week. They’re hard to break down. It was always going to be tough.
“We had two opportunities at the end of the first half that we didn’t convert and that hurt us a bit but we came out in the second half and scored a try.
“We’re delighted with the win because this is a big block of three games for us.”
Former Ulster hooker and coach Allen Clarke, now in charge of Ospreys, had no qualms about the result.
“I thought Ulster deserved it,” he said. “As usual we showed plenty of effort but we didn’t win the collisions. We were carrying with endeavour but they were able to get over the line.
“That’s where we are at the moment. We’re missing a bit of quality, missing a bit of go forward but there were opportunities there. We had two or three close lineouts where we weren’t able to get over and that’s disappointing.”