It has been quite a week for Ulster’s players. Having to deal with a training drill that involved eggs was one thing, but trying to overcome a fiercely determined Connacht side proved almost beyond them.
However, Ulster did come good in the closing 20 minutes of Friday’s basement battle at Ravenhill with Tom Court and Matt McCullough both crossing the Connacht whitewash.
Ulster coach Matt Williams, speaking afterwards, was clearly a relieved man as his side moved eight points ahead of Connacht in the Magners League table.
“We were on a hiding to nothing all week before this game. Everyone was saying this was the Grand Slam final and we could not lose.
“It added pressure to the boys and between that and the weather it added to the nervousness.
“Indeed, everything that could have gone against us in the first half did, including having Stephen Ferris sin-binned early on.
“But they came through and I had always told them it would be in the last quarter, and that was how if worked out.”
The 18-6 final score-line did not reflect just how much of the game Connacht and Williams admitted that his side had to play second fiddled for much of the interprovincial clash.
“We made a meal of it and we shouldn’t have. But we had a horrific shower of rain before kick-off and that played right into their hands.
“But you’ve got to give Connacht credit because they just keep punching above their weight in every game they play.
“They never quit, they just keep going and that’s a real credit to Michael. He doesn’t get what he deserves for his efforts and his quality as a coach.
“The people of Connacht should certainly be very proud of their team and how they played.
“We had to overcome some incredible Connacht pressure during the game so a lot of credit must go to them for how they played.”
Meanwhile, Ulster flanker Matt McCullough, who claimed the clinching try, is determined to drive the province back to the glory days of 1999 after a season that has been one to forget.
“There are guys out there who have been the best in Europe at Ravenhill and we have young guys coming in who are gaining experience,” said the Ireland international.
“We have got to put those together, put teams under pressure and get the crowd on our side.
“Fortress Ravenhill is an incredible place and if we can knock players back and put performances in at that level, it will come.”
Matt Williams’ novel training methods could help the men in white on their way, according to McCullough.
“Matt is keen to bring a bit of fun into training and throwing balls around with eggs was to help our soft-hand skills.
“I don’t know technically how much it was going to help us at a wet and windy Ravenhill but I am sure you will see some soft hands somewhere along the way and it will all be down to the eggs!”