Rugby Union

Edinburgh defeat some consolation for Ulster's disappointing draw

Ulster Rugby's Louis Ludik
John Flack

A SHOCK 25-21 PRO14 defeat for Edinburgh by Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday provided some consolation for Ulster after their disappointing 17-17 draw with Benetton Treviso at Kingspan Stadium.

The result, coupled with Scarlets earlier 22-17 loss to Leinster, means that a blanket of just two points separates four teams below the runaway Conference B leaders as the Scots missed the chance to go second.

However, judging by his post-match demeanour on Friday night, Dan McFarland might regard the fact other results went in Ulster's favour as a case of clutching at straws.

Previously, Ulster's head coach had described himself as a 'glass half-full' type of person, often praising his players' never-say-die attitude and fight for every inch mentality.

Those qualities were evident once again, as Ulster were awarded a penalty try with the last play of the game to get out of jail on Friday night after the Italians infringed following a line-out maul.

McFarland, unusually, had nothing positive to say about the performance from his squad, depleted by Ireland call-ups.

"That's definitely a draw which felt like a loss. We should have won that game. We didn't play well enough, for a lot of the time we weren't up to it," said the English man.

"Physically I thought they were very strong and we always knew that was going to be the case and we struggled to deal with it defensively and in attack."

Ulster had made a blistering start to the game as Louis Ludik went over for a try with barely a minute gone but McFarland felt it might have led to a degree of complacency.

"A try after 50 seconds was a nightmare. You think you've done the job and you've still got 79 minutes and 10 seconds to play," he added.

"We started well but we didn't keep up that kind of pace in our movement and energy in our attack.

"They had a really good defence, don't get me wrong. They were physical and they filled the line and it was very difficult to break them down, and lots of teams have found that difficult this year.

"We did it early on but, as we went on, we knew we weren't going to be able to bash the door and we had to move the ball.

"In order to do that you have to get into position quickly. There has to be lots of energy in your attack and I didn't see that energy."

McFarland also suggested there might have been a hangover in the wake of the win over Leicester which sealed Ulster a place in the Champions Cup quarter-finals although there were 11 personnel changes from that game.

"There was a six-day turnaround and we came into that game with a lot of fresh faces and we showed a little bit of naivety in the game as well in some of the play," he claimed.

Ulster now have time off to regroup before facing the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on February 15.

"We've got some big games coming up and we'll have the same set of players and we'll have to perform better than that," said McFarland.

"There's not a chance we"ll beat the Ospreys if we play like that. If we want to go where we want to go, we've got to play well and we didn't."

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