Following a 13-16 win over Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium, Ulster Coach Mark Anscombe was disappointed with the performance but was delighted his side were able to snatch victory and earn a rare win in Wales.
“I’m very relieved to come away with the win. It’s never easy to go to Swansea and come away with four points but we’ve achieved that so we have to be pleased. We didn’t play well for 65 minutes but I thought we played very well in the last quarter of an hour and it was great to get the win in the end,” he said.
“I was disappointed with the performance in the first 65 minutes. We didn’t look after the ball well enough, we were turned over a lot and we didn’t play territory like we had talked about. We seemed happy to amble through the game and I thought we generally lacked a bit of fizz and didn’t show enough purpose.”
Ulster had some quality replacements on the bench and it proved to be the difference as Paddy Jackson kicked 8 points and Paul Marshall scored the decisive try. Stephen Ferris and Andrew Trimble also came on to help turn the game around. “The subs came on and really lifted the performance. Some of them haven’t played a lot of rugby recently but it was great to be able to bring players of that calibre on,” said Anscombe.
The front row subs won a number of penalties at scrum time and that was particularly pleasing for the Ulster coaching staff. “The scrums were very good in the second half; Nigel [Brady], John [Afoa] and Tom [Court] were very strong and put their front row under pressure. Allen Clarke has done a lot of work on our set piece and we are reaping the rewards,” he said.
Another player who made a big impact was man of the match Nick Williams who was the top ball carrier on the pitch and also put in an impressive defensive display. Anscombe said: “Nick had a great game; what was pleasing was his work rate. He got through a lot of work during the 80 minutes and the more game time he gets, the better conditioned he will be. He still has a lot more to offer but his performance was important for us tonight.”
Looking ahead to the Munster game at Ravenhill next Friday night, he said, “There is plenty to improve on for next week. Every team will be looking to improve week on week and we’re no different. We will have a couple more guys back in the old and that will help but we have to be patient and we will get there.”