Dave Ewers celebrates progress by Ulster youth players
The former Exeter Chiefs loose forward at 33 was the elder statesman of the Ulster back row against the South Africans as he started with 23-year-old David McCann and 21-year-old Reuben Crothers, the latter making only his second appearance for the province.
In the second half, Crothers was replaced by another 21-year-old, Lorcan McLoughlin, who made his debut.
Scott Wilson put in another eye-catching performance in the front row, the 21-year-old was making his first start for Ulster while 22-year-old lock Harry Sheridan came off the bench in the victory that put Dan McFarland’s side third in the table.
“They have been brilliant, I take my hat off to them...they come in and during the week you can see that they are asking questions, they are really high up on their detail and what is expected of them,” said Ewers. “I have been quite taken back by how professional they have been in terms of they are not afraid to ask questions and what is expected of them in certain situations.
“You can see that by how they are playing, they know where to be and they know what they are doing...so they are getting the detail right during the week, which is allowing them to show the best of themselves in the game.
“They wouldn’t really be coming to me too much, there are leaders in the squad around lineout detail that they will go to like Iain (Henderson) and big Al O’Connor.
“I’m really happy for them how they have played and it is a real credit to the club that they have got these youngsters coming through, which leads to an exciting future.”
In torrential rain and a swirling wind Ewers was happy just to get a victory against the Lions but slightly disappointed Ulster couldn’t get a bonus point try late on.
“To be fair at Exeter we had our moments down there with bad weather, it was tough to play in and probably quite frustrating to watch and play in with the amount of mistakes,” he said. “Fortunately, we started the second half off pretty well...I think that first score after half-time was important for us.
“It was difficult as we wanted to string some phases together and at times it was pretty difficult with mistakes and stuff, so it became quite set piece-orientated, which at times we were pretty good.
“It is really encouraging that we are willing to fight for each other and put that effort in...obviously it would have been nice to get that last try in the last few minutes.”
Ulster travel to second-placed Glasgow on Saturday, then host Edinburgh before the start of the European campaign.
“I think we can be relatively happy with how we have gone; we are picking up the wins, against the Lions the weather didn’t allow us to play the way we wanted so they will be learning this week what we want to improve,” he said. “We are winning and learning which is always a positive.”