Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss hailed his side's defensive effort in Saturday's 10-3 PRO12 victory over Connacht in Galway.
A Nick Williams try in the 76th minute sealed the win for the visitors and ended Connacht's unbeaten home record this season.
The result also meant that Connacht failed to return to the top of the table – after the Scarlets also lost earlier in the day to the Ospreys – while Ulster are now in third place in the standings, just three points adrift of Connacht.
"We didn’t expect this to be easy and it wasn’t but it’s nice to come out the other side with the win," Kiss told RTÉ Sport.
"I thought the defence was very good.
"At times we gave them a bit of access in the wide channels but overall our work ethos was vital.
"It was a game where both sides had ambition and intent, but both were guilty of their skills not matching that ambition. Nick Williams is a great rugby player. He’s got a lot of heart and soul."
Despite their defeat, Connacht boss Pat Lam praised his charges' effort and urged them to learn from costly errors.
"I can't fault the boys' effort," he said.
"In these games you only get a few chances. We created a few, we just didn't take them.
"There’s some big lessons there. It was a magnificent performance [in terms of] defence and work rate off the ball, but there was obviously some key moments in that last 10, 15 minutes when at 3-3 we needed to be at the right end of the pitch.
"We were but they turned us over and squeezed us and squeezed us and rumbled over for a try. The boys didn’t go down without a fight. It was a great game for their rugby education, going forward."