STEPHEN FERRIS FEELS that European rugby’s big boys can no longer ignore Ulster after they booked their place in the Heineken Cup semi-finals with a 22-16 win against Munster.
Ulster bolted from the traps to open up a 19-0 lead inside 20 minutes but had to summon a backs-to-the-wall performance to nullify Munster’s possession and territory as they swarmed in search of a comeback.
All week, Ferris was a major doubt with an ankle injury and his presence in the starting XV lifted the Ulster defence as they stood firm in the face of Munster pressure.
“When the Munster boys were coming at us, the crowd got behind them and we knew it was going to be a long afternoon for us,” Ferris told Sky Sports as he collected the man of the match award.
It was our defence that just kept getting on top of them. I don’t think they had a line break all game and as a team, we were just outstanding in that area.
Few teams step into the cauldron that is Thomond Park and come out on the other side with a win. To beat the two-time Heineken Cup champions on their own patch sent out a powerful message as Ulster go in search of their first European crown since 1999, Ferris said.
“It’s something we talked about at the start of the season, taking another step, a step forward. I feel like we’re going places.
To put out a statement to European rugby, we had to come down here and get a win. I did an interview during the week — it’s a tough place to come down here — but I said in the interview that I firmly believed we could come down and do it. Thankfully, those words have come true.
Michael Bradley’s Edinburgh await in a Dublin semi-final in three weeks’ time and, after watching the Scots dump Toulouse out of the tournament yesterday, Ulster won’t be taking them lightly.
“Edinburgh showed that they’re a good side yesterday, they played some good rugby. It’s going to be a tough day for us, but one that we’re thoroughly looking forward to.”