Ulster’s bonus point victory in a 26-13 RaboDirect PRO12 success over Scarlets at Ravenhill last night was tainted slightly by injuries to Callum Black and Ruan Pienaar.
A try brace from Ireland outhalf, Paddy Jackson and one apiece from Tommy Bowe and Tom Court saw Ulster seal back-to-back wins and their 11th straight home success to consolidate third place in the standings.
While the main highlight for the fans was seeing the return of British Lion Stephen Ferris to action for the first time in 16 months, prop Black, who was stretchered off with a left leg injury in the first half, and scrumhalf Pienaar are major doubts for next week’s game away to Edinburgh.
Although the players have to be assessed over the weekend by the medical team, Ulster head coach, Mark Anscombe, admitted that Pienaar was looking a “bit dodgy” when he came off and it could be “a week or two” out.
“Callum was not looking too good either and could be in a similar situation. But it is a bit early to tell yet and we will just have to see what comes through the x-rays tomorrow morning (Saturday).
“As for Stephen, he is pretty bubbly after the game. To have gone through 16-months and come back, the script was almost written for him. He took a high ball when he came on and put a player on his back!”
In terms of the performance Anscombe said a bonus point win was probably more than they had expected.
“For 30-35 minutes we played some outstanding rugby and then we just got a bit loose. We just gave them a couple of soft points before the break and a little bit of habit we have created in the last few games is giving the opposition little sniffs to stay involved,” he said.
“We just got messy in that second half and forced it a bit. We made some bad decisions at certain times and it kept them in it.
“The fact is we got a bonus point win, we beat them. We had a pretty strong team out there at the end of the day, with guys coming back and so forth it is building that time together and getting confidence together again.
“That may just take a couple more games, but it is something for us to work for and build on.”
Man of the match, Paddy Jackson, showed no hangovers after being left off the Irish team to play in France today by turning in a fine performance, scoring two tries in the victory.
“That is the first 80 minutes I have had since the Leicester Tigers game so it was good to get the game time,” he said.
“I enjoyed every minute being down in Dublin and learned a lot, so I felt fairly comfortable out there.”