DCSIMG

Victory a testament to character of squad: Best

Chris Henry, Rory Best and Johann Muller combine to stop Jamie Gibson

Chris Henry, Rory Best and Johann Muller combine to stop Jamie Gibson

British Lions hooker, Rory Best, had spoken with great desire during the week about Ulster wanting to go to Europe and complete their destiny in this season’s Heineken Cup.

Fourteen years on from the only other time Ulster secured a home draw in the quarter-finals - and Best was there to watch it in the crowd with his family - the international hooker Best was delighted the squad of 2013-14 had created their own piece of history.

Ulster have now reached the quarter-finals four seasons in a row, but the previous three were away from home.

For the first time, even since 1999, Ulster went into their final pool game in full control of their destiny.

A 22-19 win over Leicester got them over the line and now they face a home quarter-final against Saracens on the weekend of April 5.

“We talked all week about this being a massive game, “ said Best.

“Welford Road is not an easy place to come. Leicester Tigers do not lose here very often.

“We knew it was going to take a massive performance an 80-plus minute performance and a big improvement on last week.

“We delivered as big a performance as we have produced this season.”

Ulster had trailed 9-3, but pulled it back to 9-9 at the break before going 19-9 down in the third quarter.

Best said: “Even when we went those 10 points down there was still a massive belief in this group of players.

“We knew we had the quality to come back even in a tough place like this

“It is a testament to the character the boys have and the will they have to win, well aided by Ruan Pienaar who put in a terrific kicking performance both from the ground and hand.”

Best went on: “We talked about big moments and there were a few big lineouts and scrums just right when we needed them.

“I think if you are going to do things in the Heineken Cup you need a strong set piece and we showed we have that.”

Ulster lost to Saracens in last season’s quarter-finals at Twickenham - a year after Ulster had gone to Munster and won in the last eight, going on to the lose to Leinster in the final at Twickenaham.”

In the 1998-99 season, Ulster defeated Toulouse at home in the last eight and went on to win the trophy,

Best, who said he was there with his family on that occasion, said it was “brilliant to be back at Ravenhill again for another big European game.

“We said this week that we wanted to make history. We wanted the six from six. No one else is undefeated in this tournament.

“We wanted to be the team to get through the pool stages unbeaten to be top seeds, we wanted that home quarter-finals and as much as anything the last 30 seconds against Leicester showed how much we want to win this tournament.

“We have a terrific facility and stadium now. We have put a bit of pressure on the builders to make sure we are ready for that quarter-final,” smiled Best.

It is going to be a fantastic occasion. But it is just another step along the way for us, we have to make sure it is not just an occasion, but it is one where we will put on a performance and get the result we need,” said Best.

It is a while off yet and we are absolutely delighted with this performance and this win and also we have to give credit to a very storn gLeicerster team , they showed how much they wanted to come here for the qf, but we just had enough to hold on.

 

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