Mark Anscombe hails Ulster aces as they secure play-off place

Paddy Jackson
Paddy Jackson

Head coach Mark Anscombe, hailed the character within the squad which saw Ulster secure a place in the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs against all the odds in a 22-20 loss to Leinster on Friday night at Ravenhill.

Ulster had to play for 64 minutes with 14 men after Tom Court was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Devin Toner.

Leinster had Rob Kearney and Rhys Ruddock sin-binned within two minutes of each other, which at one point gave Ulster the numerical advantage for eight minutes.

Paddy Jackson kicked all of Ulster’s 20 points, his fourth and fifth penalties proving crucial as it secured his side the losing bonus point required to secure successive semi-final spots.

A month ago Ulster lost 17-15 against Saracens in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals in similar circumstances, but at least they had something tangible to look forward to at the end of it.

Anscombe said: “At 6-0 down against a quality side like Leinster and down to 14 men you would probably not have given us much chance.

“But we know there is great character in this side and it showed once again tonight. The guys deserve credit for it.

“The thing is apart from all the emotions of red and yellow cards and so forth tonight, our discipline was poor at times.

“We gave away too many penalties and the clean out and attention to detail was poor as well.

“If we are going to progress no matter who it is against we are going to have to improve on a few things.”

Leinster coach, Matt O’Connor said: “It gives us the opportunity next week at home to Edinburgh to control our destiny and put ourselves in a good position for whatever might happen after that.”