Guinness PRO12: Ulster boys showed character in ugly win, says Doak
Ulster head coach praises team as they hold on to defeat Edinburgh 20-17 despite ending the game with 13 men
Neil Doak praised Ulster’s spirit as they ground out a 20-17 win against Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield, despite ending the match with 13 men.
Ulster had centre Stuart McCloskey red carded mid-way through the second half for a dangerous tackle on Hamish Watson before lock Franco van der Merwe was sin binned in the closing stages.
We talked before the match about coming away from home and sometimes having to play ugly to win, but that was a bit too ugly.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Irish province held out for an ugly win, spurred on by a healthy number of young Ulster fans, who took advantage of Edinburgh’s £10 student offer of a ticket, beer and burger.
Edinburgh saw outside-half Tom Heathcote miss six of 10 kicks on goal, while Ulster’s South African scrum-half Ruan Pienaar scored 15 points, including their opening try.
And Doak bemoaned Ulster’s indiscipline that almost cost his side the win had it not been for a poor, error-strewn performance from the Gunners.
“We made it very difficult for ourselves, but the boys showed some real character,” Doak said.
“We talked before the match about coming away from home and sometimes having to play ugly to win, but that was a bit too ugly.”
“It was great to get a win because we knew that it was going to be a difficult game; Edinburgh have been on a pretty good run.
“I thought that we managed the game well until the sending off.
“We just lacked discipline and that caused us a few problems at the end.
“I am unbelievably happy for the players. They have been working hard and maybe that is the little bit of luck that we needed.”
As well as Pienaar’s superior accuracy off the tee, Ulster had number eight Nick Williams to thank for the win as he drew a number of defenders before feeding centre Darren Cave to run in their second try.
The result took Ulster level on points with league leaders Glasgow Warriors, but the head coach admitted there is much for his players to work on ahead of next week’s Round 16 clash when they host the Scarlets at the Kingspan Stadium.
“It is a difficult period for teams with disruption – players are coming in and coming out for the Six Nations,” Doak added.
“For us to come away from home and grind out a win at Murrayfield, when down to 13 men was outstanding.
“We started the game well. Edinburgh didn’t really have a lot of possession in their own half.
“Maybe we were a bit loose with the ball, but we had them defending in their territory.
“We just had a couple of lapses in concentration and then they went down the other end and scored a try and suddenly were in the lead.
“That is something that we need to work on – not to give points away so easily. However, to get back into the lead and to hold out was pleasing.
“It was a great score from [Darren Cave] and he seems to be getting on the end of things at the moment.”