Ulster captain Muller applauds fellow countryman Ruan Pienaar

Ruan Pienaar converts his try during the Heineken Cup Pool 5 Round 6 clash against Leicester Tigers
Ruan Pienaar converts his try during the Heineken Cup Pool 5 Round 6 clash against Leicester Tigers

Ulster captain Johann Muller hailed Ruan Pienaar after the South African’s efforts clinched his side a famous victory at Leicester Tigers and a home tie in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Scrum-half Pienaar scored all of Ulster’s points in the 22-19 win on Saturday as Ulster went through Pool Five with a 100 per cent record, the only team to do so in Europe this season.

Muller said: “It seems like it’s happening every week, when he scores all the points.

“I came here with him yesterday to do kicking practice and he did not miss one all day.

“He was outstanding and kicked them from 60, 62 metres. From a captain’s point of view it gives you a lot of confidence.

“A huge amount of credit to him and it doesn’t just happen. He puts a huge amount of work in, he puts hours and hours into his kicking and it’s wonderful when it pays off.”

Ulster’s win means they top Pool Five with six wins out of six and in April will have a chance to avenge last season’s quarter-final defeat at Saracens.

This time, however, they will have home advantage, and Muller said: “We came here to get a home quarter-final.

“Sarries totally outplayed us last season. They are a great side and don’t mind going away to get a result.

“It’s two months away and at this stage we will just enjoy the moment.

“We have not achieved anything yet and there’s a huge amount of work left if we are to achieve something.”

Richard Cockerill, Tigers’ director of rugby, said: “We’re disappointed with the result, but it was a good game.

“It was very tight margins and we dropped the wrong side of those margins. Ten points up, we needed to control the game better but we did not manage the back field as well as we would have liked and they exposed us.

“To lose to a charge-down kick is disappointing but you make your own luck.

“I am not going to criticise us. The luck of the draw fell their way tonight and that happens in sport.

“It wasn’t for a lack of effort. We played some good stuff and you just have to take it on the chin.”

Leicester, who suffered their first home defeat in the competition since 2006-2007, face a quarter-final away to Clermont.

Cockerill had joked just after the game prior to it being confirmed that it would either be Clermont or reigning champions Toulon.

“At the moment it’s probably Toulon, tomorrow it may be Clermont who have an average home record, what is it, 73 games unbeaten,” said Cockerill.

He added: Yes, to lose was bitterly disappointing.

“Both sides put in a massive effort, everyone worked very hard and it was going to come down to tiny things - and it was tiny margins in the end.

“They made mistakes, we made mistakes and we got a good try, Pienaar chases hard and he gets the try and it is game on again.

“You end up losing, but it is one of those things

We played well tonight and I am certainly not going to criticise our lads.

“We are in the quarter-finals and that is all that matters now. Ulster played really well tonight and won.”