Sport

Dan McFarland demands more from Ulster after surrender

Ulster coach Dan McFarland
Ulster coach Dan McFarland Ulster coach Dan McFarland

ULSTER coach Dan McFarland has demanded more from his players after they went down to a disappointing defeat to Edinburgh in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship game at Ravenhill.

A late surge from the home side, when they got two tries over the line, gained them two bonus points but it wasn’t enough to prevent them suffering a 27-24 defeat to the travelling Scots, their third of the season.

Ulster are back in action against Bath in the Champions Cup this weekend, and McFarland has demanded his players immediately raise the bar.

"When you don't take your opportunities, you'll be under pressure at some point,” he said after Saturday’s loss.

"We need to be more focused and more understanding. We had a good team out there, a backline full of internationals and we need to execute. We've got to be better.

"We trained very well on Thursday but we didn't train well on Tuesday. A lot of that is down to the cohesion aspect and a lot of chop and change - but we need to be consistently more accurate while training."

Strong showings from skipper Jamie Ritchie and Ben Healy, the Edinburgh fly-half kicking 12 points, brought the visitors their first victory in Belfast since 2018, with tries scored by skipper Ben Vellacott, Pierre Schoeman and Robin Hislop.

Tom Stewart scored two tries for Ulster, with Robert Baloucoune also touching down before James Hume's late effort earned them the two points.

Ulster opened the scoring after five minutes when Stewart smashed over and through Vellacott after peeling off a maul. John Cooney converted to put Ulster 7-0 in front.

They came close to increasing their lead five minutes later after Baloucoune's take of a high ball, but Nick Timoney was felled by Wes Goosen close to the line ahead of Ritchie's breakdown steal.

Then following a scrum penalty against Ulster, Healy landed a long-range penalty to cut the led to four points.

On 24 minutes, Edinburgh launched a dynamic attack off a penalty which resulted in skipper Vellacott reaching over the Ulster line after good approach work by Schoeman and Jamie Hodgson. Healy converted and the Scots now led 10-7.

The half ended when Edinburgh secured a penalty following a lineout turnover, Healy slotting the straightforward chance from the tee to put the visitors back in front at the break by 13-12.

Hume then got over the line after a huge amount of Ulster pressure, but the score was ruled out after Baloucoune was adjudged to have juggled the ball forward.

After absorbing a huge period of Ulster pressure, Edinburgh lifted the siege and when visiting the home team's 22, Schoeman drove over from close range after some close-in drives. Healy converted and Edinburgh now led 20-12.

Their lead could have been increased when James Lang got over in the corner only for the score to be ruled out due to a foot in touch.

But the visitors came again and after a sweeping move up the middle with the ball spread left and right, replacement Hislop surged over, again from close range. Healy converted and Edinburgh now led 27-12.

Ulster had to respond and did so with just seven minutes left when Stewart put Baloucoune over, but Doak was unable to convert.

Ulster were then reduced to 14 when Ben Moxham was stretchered off - there were no subs left to bring on - but then so were Edinburgh when Harry Patterson was shown yellow in the 77th minute.

Hume struck with the last play to earn Ulster two points - a try bonus and narrow defeat - the final act being Doak's conversion.