Pro14: Tom O'Toole is 'the smiling assassin' - Ulster coach McFarland

Tom O'Toole
Tom O'Toole scored a try three minutes after coming on as a repalcement for Marty Moore

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has praised the attitudes of Tom O'Toole and Robert Baloucoune after a 20-10 win over Cheetahs.

Prop O'Toole and winger Baloucoune both scored tries for Ulster after returning from Ireland's Six Nations camp.

O'Toole played 75 minutes in Belfast and scored three minutes after replacing the injured Marty Moore.

"Tom is a smiling assassin, he even tried to barrel through the post to score his try," joked McFarland.

"He was joking in the changing room that the post was a solid defender."

Baloucoune trained with Andy Farrell's Ireland outfit as part of a development programme, while O'Toole was released from the main squad to get some game time in the Pro14.

McFarland said the duo have benefitted from the experience, and praised the Ulster back-line which included academy graduates and long-term absentees James Hume and Michael Lowry.

"It was terrific to see them back on the pitch," McFarland added on the return of Hume and Lowry.

"They are both really good players and when you think about how youthful our backline was, I thought they all done a really good job today."

Ulster's win over Cheetahs meant McFarland's men returned to winning ways after losing away to Ospreys last time out.

"There was a lot of gnashing of teeth at the beginning of the week, and we probably worked a lot harder than we would do normally and the guys relished that," added McFarland on the response from defeat in Wales.

"What you invest during the week you normally get out of it at the weekend."

Robert Baloucoune and Ruan Pienaar
Robert Baloucoune scored a crucial try on Ruan Pienaar's return to Kingspan Stadium

While Leinster are runaway leaders in Conference A, Ulster now hold a seven-point advantage over Glasgow Warriors in third place.

"The response this week was more about decision making, we really improved there, and we can always be better," said McFarland.

"The Cheetahs made our defence work hard and I thought if we could add a little bit of 'oomph' to our attack then we would be able to cause them problems and stretch them.

"Sure enough, we did that and exploited the space that we created.

"People talk about us being in a good position in Conference A, but we still have to play Glasgow twice.

"We're now 10 points ahead of Cheetahs, who we know will be banking a load of bonus-points when they play at home, so it was really important that we won today."

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