Friday 15 December 2017

McLaughlin urges Ulster to improve for trip to Biarritz

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin believes his side can play better after they struggled to deal with a brave Aironi effort before registering an opening bonus-point win in Pool Four of the Heineken Cup.

After seeing off the Italians 30-6, a win which took his side's unbeaten record to six games in all competitions at Ravenhill, McLaughlin admitted his side could improve on their performance.

"The way to describe it was we got a great win but we can still play better," he said.

The bonus-point was vital for Ulster, who play Biarritz away next weekend and also have to face Bath in what is likely to be a highly competitive group.

McLaughlin was keen to play down the province's absolute need to get maximum points from the Aironi clash.

"We are chuffed with the result but we never mentioned the bonus point. We knew, though that going into Europe it would be very important for us to get maximum points.

"At half-time we talked about maintaining tempo and intensity, which had been lacking in previous games, while we also talked about accuracy, but that sort of let us down tonight."


Andrew Trimble's first-half try, with an excellent assist from Springbok Ruan Pienaar, was supplemented in the second half by an opportunistic score from Ian Humphreys, along with tries from Simon Danielli and the bonus point coming courtesy of Pienaar.

"In the second half we got there in the end, but we still made a few mistakes. Thankfully, we got there," McLaughlin said.

Looking forward to next weekend's game in Biarritz, McLaughlin said that Ulster were under no illusions about the task ahead.

"Aironi are a very tough, physical pack and it's going to be no different in Biarritz, but we have to deal with that and make sure we match Biarritz's physicality," McLaughlin said.

"We're going to go there with a lot of confidence and we must make sure we take our opportunities when they arise.

"We're very happy with where we are. We're in a good place but we know we can still do better," the Ulster coach added.

"I was pretty rusty and threw a few bad passes and made a few poor kicks," said Ulster out-half Humphreys after playing his first competitive game of the season.

"I thought that it was just through a few mistakes from us that we didn't pile on the points. We were just trying to force the offloads and passes.

"To meet the challenge of Biarritz next week, we really have to tighten up on that aspect of our game and cut out the silly errors," added Humphreys, who took over the kicking duties from Pienaar.

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