ULSTER COACH BRIAN McLAUGHLIN insists that the scenes of jubilation and raw emotion that followed their Heineken Cup semi-final win over Edinburgh will not distract from the end goal of capturing the main prize.
McLaughlin joined his players for a triumphant lap of honour at the final whistle but he stated afterwards that a win in Twickenham next month will be the focus from Sunday onwards.
“There are a few bumps and bruises at the moment,” he said. “I suspect that the same bumps and bruises might go away tonight but reappear in the morning.”
The coach paid credit to his team for getting through an ‘exceptionally tough’ game. He added:
Edinburgh threw everything at us, especially in the first half, but, all credit to our defence, we were rock-solid. We were ruthless in the first-half. We had one opportunity in their 22 and scored seven points.
McLaughlin took time to pay credit to the outstanding Ulster supporters who brought noise and vibrancy to the Aviva Stadium throughout the 22-19 win.
“Jeepers,” he remarked. “From the minute we got up to leave the hotel, it was buzzing. You could barely get out to the bus outside the Shelbourne Hotel and on the way to the stadium there were Ulster fans and flags lining every street.” McLaughlin added:
It is going to live with me for the rest of my days.
Ulster captain Johann Muller revealed that the side were expecting a physical contest and a different Edinburgh from the side they regularly face in the RaboDirect Pro12.
“The scrum and the line-out was outstanding and when you have a kicker like (Ruan) Pienaar you are going to win more games than you lose.”
Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley was ‘disappointed and a little frustrated’ after seeing his side fall short.
“We had opportunities to build points in the first half but didn’t do it,” he said. “Ulster shut us down in the second-half and kept managing to get three soft points.”
“The key period was when it was 13-12 but we were not able to force our game on Ulster and they were able to cruise back up to 19-12,” he added.