‘Trench warfare’ as McLaughlin lauds Ulster victory

ULSTER coach Brian McLaughlin put down his team’s success in Italy on Saturday night to sheer doggedness.

The error-strewn game was a hard slog, but McLaughlin will not mind that as victory over Aironi in Viadana saw Ulster recording wins in the opening two Magners League games for the first time in four years.

McLaughlin got what he expected from the Italians, a physical battle that hinged on who would win the arm-wrestling up front. Ulster just about did that with Robbie Diack the pick of an over-worked pack.

“We are very happy to have the win. It was like trench warfare at times,” said McLaughlin.

“We made a lot of errors and our set piece was just not clinical enough, so while the result is pleasing, the performance was less so.

“However, away wins, in particular, are hard to come by and I’m very pleased and a little relieved to have taken the points away from this trip. Over the past couple of weeks Aironi have shown they are more than capable of competing in the Magners League.

“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, it’s a very long season but from a results point of view it’s hard not to be happy with two wins from two.

“Edinburgh at Ravenhill next Friday will be another tough proposition and we’ve got plenty to work on.”

Niall O’Connor did the business with a 17-point haul, just like last week in the narrow victory over the Ospreys, although his kicking performance in balmy conditions in Viadana was far from perfect.

The 23-year-old fly-half nonetheless landed five penalties and converted the only try of the game from number eight Diack.

The South African, who is eligible to play for Ireland in just over two weeks, snaffled a long pass from Aironi number 10 Ludovic Mercier on the hour to scamper 50 metres to the try line.

AIRONI: J Laharrague; G Toniolatti, R Quartaroli, D des Fountain; G Rubini; L Mercier, T Tebaldi; A de Marchi, F Ongaro, S Perugini, C del Fava, Q Geldenhuys, J Erasmus, G Krause, N Williams.

Replacements: L Ferraro for Ongara (60), L Redolfini for de Marchi (60), M Bortolami for del Fava (44), J Sole for Erasmus (60), P Canavosio for Tebaldi (44), A Benettin, G Pizarro for des Foutain (4).

ULSTER: A D’Arcy; T Seymour, D Cave, P Wallace, D McIlwaine; N O’Connor, P Marshall; T Court, N Brady, D Fitzpatrick, J Muller, T Baxter, P Wannenburg, C Henry, R Diack.

Replacements: A Kyriacou for Brady (69), B Young for Fitzpatrick (4), P McAllister for Court (73) , R Caldwell for Barker (60) , W Faloon for Henry (60), I Porter for Marshall (60), I Whitten for Seymour (60), J Smith.

Referee: David Jones (WRU).

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