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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 December, 2003, 18:12 GMT
Ward praises team effort
Ulster captain Andy Ward
Ulster skipper Andy Ward raises the Celtic Cup
Ulster skipper Andy Ward put his side's inaugural Celtic Cup victory over Edinburgh down to sheer guts.

Ulster held a handsome 21-point first half lead only for Edinburgh to storm back with three converted tries.

But two more second-half penalties by man-of-the-match David Humphreys saw Ulster collect their first trophy since the European Cup wtih a 27-21 win.

Humphreys contributed 17 points with the boot and Neil Best and Rowan Frost touched down for all-important tries.

Edinburgh had charged back into contention when Chris Paterson converted tries from Simon Webster, Derrick Lee and Mike Blair.

But Ward said that the stout rearguard effort during Edinburgh's second-half fightback was the key to success.

''It's a fantastic result, and a real gutsy performance in the second half,'' said the 33-year-old veteran.

''We've been in the dark for a while now. We've battled away for a couple of years, and it's just monumental to get some more silverware in the cupboard.

''It's a great day for the Ulster players who have worked so hard. But it's a special day for the Ulster fans who made the trip. We just love them to bits,'' said Ward who said that there were some nervous moments.

''We started to fall off our game a bit in the second half. We lost our integrity and our defensive line.''

Ulster coach Alan Solomons also paid respect to his players and how they held out in the second half.

I'm just glad we came out on the right side of it
Ulster coach
Alan Solomons
''It was an absolutely fantastic result,'' said the former Springbok assistant. ''The players showed a lot of resilience against a very good Edinburgh side.

''They played superbly in the second half, but we just stuck to our task and came away with a great win.

''I am chuffed for the players, the supporters, and indeed for the whole province. It's a wonderful achievement.

''This is a fantastic day for me too. To win a tournament is always good, and I am just delighted to be part of the success.

''But it was a very nervous last five minutes. For me to say otherwise would be a total lie.

''The game could have gone either way, and it went right down to the wire. It was very exciting and it is a tribute to Edinburgh. But I'm just glad we came out on the right side of it.

''Conditions were foul, but that is expected at this time in the United Kingdom. But at least all Ulstermen are very happy.''

The effort was immense - but we were always playing catch-up
Todd Blackadder

Frustrated Edinburgh skipper Todd Blackadder claimed his team blew their chances - by trying to play too much rugby.

The former All Blacks captain admitted that Ulster had "come up with the clever game" in wretched conditions at Murrayfield.

"Our first half was the worst 40 minutes we have had all season and it is a huge shame it happened on the big day.

"We put ourselves under pressure by trying to do too much, too quickly in weather that didn't suit. The result was silly mistakes which gave them scoring opportunities.

"All credit to Ulster because they were clever in the way they wanted to play. But I was proud of the way the guys responded after the interval.

''The effort was immense - but we were always playing catch-up and there was just too much to do."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Ulster coach Alan Solomons
''We just stuck to our task and came away with a victory''


Ulster skipper Andy Ward
''The fans were superb. We just love them to bits''



SEE ALSO
Ulster hold on for victory
20 Dec 03  |  Irish


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