Doak: We have to pick ourselves up

Doak: We have to pick ourselves up

Ulster coach Neil Doak refused to admit defeat in his side’s European campaign despite a second straight loss in Pool Three at the hands of champions Toulon.

The French side were impressive 23-13 winners at Ravenhill, putting themselves in a strong position to progress but leaving Ulster’s hopes of making the last eight appearing remote.

Doak was trying to look on the bright side, however.

“The first two games were pretty difficult (for us),” he said of the loss to Toulon, who scored tries through Bryan Habana and Delon Armitage and had 13 points from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny, and their opening reverse at Leicester.

“But we’ve got four games still to go and the potential to pick up 20 points in that.

“Obviously we’ve got to go away to Toulon and that’s going to be a pretty tough ask.

“I suppose after the Tigers it makes it disappointing that we didn’t come out better than that.

“But it’s a long season and we’ll just have to keep digging in and we’ve got to pick ourselves up.”

Ulster captain Rory Best admitted the home side’s scrum had not functioned as well as had been hoped against a mighty Toulon eight.

“Against a big pack like that we knew we had to move them around a bit and to do that you’ve got to get quick ball,” he said. “It’s something we’ve worked hard on and we needed returns on that but we couldn’t get the ball we wanted.

“We got penalised a bit at scrum time, which we were a bit disappointed with. We felt we were better than the amount of penalties we conceded and we felt we should have had more (of a positive outcome) than that as we had the upper hand at times but we probably weren’t as neat and tidy as we’d been before.”

Toulon skipper Carl Hayman was clearly delighted with bagging the away win and the position it now puts his side in regarding their ultimate aim of winning the group.

“There are not a lot of teams that come here and win, and for us to come here and get a victory, we’re really happy,” he said.

“We knew it was going to be a tough battle and a very important part of the game. The scrum, rolling maul and breakdown is always a hotly contested part of the game – it was an area that we knew we’d have to come here and dominate.

“It’s an area of our game that we try to work hard on every week – it’s the basics of rugby and we are happy to come away with the win.

“The intercept from Delon (Armitage) was a real key turning point in the game that gave us breathing space. It was a crucial score at a crucial time against the wind.

“We already had a good lead at half-time and we knew that we would always have to get a try in the second half.

“I was really proud of the guys in defence. We talked over the last few days what we’d need to win here and we respect the Ulster team hugely for what they have done here in the previous years and their home record, so I’m really proud of the guys the way they stuck in.”

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