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'The scoreboard looks good but there was a hell of a lot of effort that went into getting that'

Interim Ulster boss Jono Gibbes got off to a winning start with a comprehensive defeat of the Southern Kings on Friday night.

Ulster Interim Head Coach Jono Gibbes.
Ulster Interim Head Coach Jono Gibbes.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

ULSTER’S INTERIM HEAD coach Jono Gibbes says their 59-10 win over the Southern Kings at Kingspan Stadium was down to the work they did in training over the last two weeks.

Craig Gilroy, on his return from injury, scored a hat-trick as the province began life without Les Kiss with a nine try hiding of a very poor Kings outfit, keeping them in touch with the Scarlets and Leinster in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14.

After the game, Gibbes praised his side for the effort they put in for the weeks leading up to the match as they look to finish the season strongly after their elimination from Europe a few weeks ago.

“It was a good reflection of how we trained and the effort the guys have put in, not only the 23 that played tonight but our guys outside the 23,” Gibbes said.

“We trained Thursday and Friday last week and the quality of the sessions has been really high, the energy was really high, and that’s probably one of the challenges that’s been laid down for the playing group — are we able to bring a bit more energy and intensity in our work through to the game?

Craig Gilroy scores a try Craig Gilroy scored a hat-trick on Friday night. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I think that’s the good thing about tonight, the scoreboard looks good but there was a hell of a lot of effort that went into getting that.”

After a tough couple of weeks marred by off-field issues, as well as the departure of Kiss by mutual consent, it was imperative that the hosts got back on track by dispatching Conference B’s winless basement dwellers.

From the start it showed as they kicked for the corner rather than taking easy points, and by the end they had nine tries in what will undoubtedly be a morale-boosting result and performance for the province.

But Gibbes revealed there was no magic solution discovered in the build up to the game, rather they needed to make sure they did the basics well to get over the line.

John Cooney kicks a conversion John Cooney kicks a conversion. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The Kiwi coach admitted: “We hadn’t really overcomplicated too many things last week and into this week we took a reasonably simple approach, and we felt if we were really good at some simple things, or basic things I guess, then that would put us in the position to get what we needed.

“That was probably the message all week, and there wasn’t a hell of a lot of messages going down today. At half time we regrouped, tweaked a couple of things and stayed with the processes and things we practiced.

“The fact we didn’t set ourselves up with magic plays, trying to create an aura around one magic fix for everything, I think that helps us be more consistent for next week as well.

“The scoreboard looks good, but the pleasing thing from the coaching group is the amount of effort that went in from all the guys and staff for this game. It was good reward for effort tonight.”

Jono Gibbes during the warm up Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Next week is now massive as Ulster welcome Edinburgh to Kingspan Stadium in a huge Conference B match-up following the Scots’ late comeback win over Leinster at Myreside.

Just three points separate the two sides in third and fourth, with not just the advantage in the race for the end of season playoffs on the line, but also a priceless Champions Cup spot up for grabs too.

Gibbes’ side will already be at a disadvantage, however, as it looks like they will be without key trio Charles Piutau, Sean Reidy and Rob Lyttle, who were all taken off injured during the win over the Kings.

“It’s always a concern when you lose three players who can’t finish the game like that,” Gibbes lamented. “The Six Nations period is always a bit tricky, but we’ll call someone else up to the squad who’ll have to step up and get going if those three injuries are deemed serious.

“They’ll get assessed, and I think the one thing we’ll know is having looked through the Edinburgh stuff this week, we’ll need 100% fit guys out there.

“Cockers (Richard Cockerill) has got them with a real edge when they’ve got the ball, and a real purpose with what they’re trying to do in that team. He’s underlined that with some hard nosed basics, so we need to be 100% fit next week when we’re going to play them.”

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