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Triumph over Cardiff is for our number one fan, says Ruan

By Jonathan Bradley

Man-of-the-match Ruan Pienaar dedicated Ulster's win over Cardiff to super-fan Jamie Donaldson who passed away over the weekend.

The 26-year-old from Dromore, who was confined to a wheelchair, died peacefully in the Royal Victoria Hospital of Friday.

A popular figure with the squad, Jamie travelled all over Europe watching the side and it was a familiar sight to see him passing out chocolate bars to the players after matches.

"I think for all of us, it was a massive shock when we were on the way to the airport to get the news that Jamie had passed away," admitted Pienaar, whose team-mates wore black armbands in the Welsh capital.

"I think just the effort that he's gone through to watch us over the years and support us was incredible and it's very sad to lose someone like that.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his mum, dad, and the rest of the family. It's a massive loss and we'll give this one to Jamie. He was a special supporter."

The win, that brought with it a bonus-point after tries from Charles Piutau, Stuart McCloskey, Kyle McCall, Chris Henry and Louis Ludik, lifted Ulster into fifth place in the table and ended a run of three straight Guinness PRO12 defeats.

Their most recent loss had come at the hands of Edinburgh and, after four weeks without a game thanks to the international window and a postponement against Zebre, the Springbok was thrilled to get that winning feeling once again.

"It was nice to get the win again," Pienaar added. "We haven't been playing well or getting the results the last couple of months. "It was pleasing to play a bit better this time.

"I think, it was a tough period results-wise and we weren't playing well.

"To put up a decent performance at stages (on Saturday) was better."

While the showing was not without flaws, the scrum-half admitted that it was a lapse that saw a 21-3 lead become 28-22 before Ludik made matters safe in the final five minutes.

"Probably the 20 or 30 minutes of the second half was below par and our discipline let us down," he said.

"But the guys showed character to come back and score a try again to put them out of reach.

"This is a good Cardiff side with lots of quality. To come here and get five points is really pleasing. I think it's a tough place to come. We've had some narrow losses."

Back to winning ways, and with a host of players fit again after injury, Pienaar hopes the victory, coupled with the returns of Rory Best and Paddy Jackson from Ireland, will lift confidence ahead of the Champions Cup clashes with Clermont over the next two weekends.

"It's a massive win and hopefully we can take momentum. This win and the Irish boys joining us again after a great Autumn series will give us lots of confidence."

In what was a good weekend for the Irish provinces, Leinster and Connacht were also victorious.

Champions Connacht made light work of Treviso at the Sportsground in Galway. Pat Lam's men had the bonus point wrapped up by half-time in the 47-8 win.

Leinster also bagged a bonus point as they overcame Newport Gwent Dragons 28-15.

Belfast Telegraph


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