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Pienaar deflects praise onto pack

A FLAWLESS kicking performance from scrum-half Ruan Pienaar may have sealed a famous victory for Ulster but the modest Springbok believes the hard work has only begun for the northern province.

Pienaar's flawless place-kicking was vital as Ulster beat Edinburgh 22-19 in an enthralling semi-final at the Aviva on Saturday but he chose to praise his forward division for another brilliant display at the breakdown.

“The scrum went brilliantly, and the line-outs, but it was disappointing that we didn't get a lot of opportunities in the first half as we were defending most of the time,” he said.

“It wasn't our best performance, we'll have to improve, but we'll take the victory and know that we'll need to work hard over the next couple of weeks.”

His half-back partner, 20-year-old Paddy Jackson also came in for special mention.

“Paddy played really well, he marshalled the forwards, put in a couple of good tactical kicks and for a youngster, coming in under pressure like that, he did really well.

“He is a capable rugby player and he has got a lot of talent. I think there are big things to come from Paddy Jackson.”

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin had no qualms about crediting his scrum-half: “Ruan was outstanding. In the second half we got more possession, more territory and the opportunities came.”

Despite the fact that Ulster were the bookies favourites going into the game, McLaughlin said that he knew Edinburgh would make things very difficult for his side.

“We are delighted to be where we are. It was exceptionally tough,” he added. “We are looking forward to getting to Twickenham and showing we can dog it out like we did today but also we are a very capable rugby side.”