Pienaar unfazed by Euro Cup curse
Sun, 19 Jan 2014 09:43
It was a massive team effort
Ulster match-winner Ruan Pienaar says he's not superstitious and won't worry about the European club title hoodoo that has meant no team winning all pool matches have been able to go on and win the title.
Pienaar scored all 22 points in Ulster's historic victory at Welford Road on Saturday which wrapped up their 100% Pool Five record. Their 22-19 triumph secured top seeding and earned them a home quarterfinal for the first time since December 1998.
That was the season that Ulster became the first Irish province to lift the European Cup and their reward for a perfect six out of six pool record is a home game at Ravenhill against Mark McCall's high flying Saracens.
When asked about the 'curse of the European Cup' Pienaar gave a straight forward answer - "I'm not superstitious." Ulster became the 10th club to end their pool campaign with a 100% record.
"All eight teams that are through are very tough no matter where you play them. We're thankful that it's going to be at Ravenhill because we've got great support there," said Pienaar.
"The stadium is looking great at the moment, but no matter who we face it's going to be tough. We'll keep working hard, keep our feet on the ground and, hopefully, we can progress further."
Pienaar picked up his second successive European Cup man of the match award in a game where he scored all his team's points, but he gave all the credit to the performance of his forward pack in a game which threatened to get away from the Irish side.
"We knew it was going to be tough. The forwards played outstandingly well, I think we controlled the game pretty well with our kicking game.
"It was a massive team effort and hats off to everyone. We knew it was going to be a tough one, it wasn't pretty but we managed to get the result in the end.
"Our defence wasn't too great last week against Montpellier so we had to make a massive step up. Once again I must say how impressive the forwards were today. They made a couple of massive hits, it was just a great team effort.
Ulster will look to increase their unbeaten European Cup run when they host eighth seeds Saracens in April.
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