Ulster ground out a 19-8 victory over Scarlets on Friday night to maintain their 100 per cent start to the Guinness PRO12 season and captain Rob Herring insists it was pack domination that won the day.
Before the game, much of the attention was on the two high-powered, exciting backlines but Louis Ludik’s score midway through the first half was the only try for the first 75 minutes of the contest – before Scarlets flanker Will Boyde and Ulster lock Iain Henderson crossed late on.
Henderson’s effort to seal the victory – which ensured Les Kiss’ troops lie second in the nascent Guinness PRO12 table – came just a minute from time after a string of missed opportunities over the 80 minutes.
And while hooker Herring acknowledges there are improvements to be made, he was understandably delighted with the performance of the forwards.
“You look at the backs and the players who were brought in, they’re star quality,” explained Herring.
“I think as a forward pack we like to go about our business quietly and make sure we get our set-piece right.
“Our set-piece is right up there as one of the best in terms of stats, so we are providing good ball for the backs and to be quite honest that’s our job.
“We had crucial turnovers at good times in the game and it was good to get that relief.
“When we look back at the game, we played some good rugby in the right areas of the pitch but we just couldn’t finish it off which is slightly disappointing. But we’ll learn and try to fix it for next week.”
Friday was a particularly special night for Herring as he won his 100th Ulster cap and avoided the curse of last season, which saw Roger Wilson and Andrew Trimble lose on their 200th appearance, Chris Henry and Paul Marshall taste defeat on their 150th and Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar suffer heartbreak on their 100th.
The Scarlets clash had a couple of other notable milestones for Ulster as Andy Warwick brought up 50 appearances for the province and Angus Lloyd made his debut.
And Herring concedes that the butterflies were fluttering in his stomach in the build-up to the Kingspan Stadium stand-off.
“I think before the game I was slightly more nervous than usual, just reflecting on the last four years,” added the 26-year-old.
“But once you hit the field, it’s just another game and I just want to do my best for the team.
“I was just thinking in the build-up to the game there’s a lot made of it, but once you get over the white line it’s just another game and I’m just happy to get the win.”
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