Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Ulster make too many mistakes

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin was left frustrated by his side’s “own goals” as their miserable record in France continued.

The Heineken Cup clash with Stade Francais was switched from frozen Brussels on Saturday to Paris yesterday and although the team’s commitment and work rate was admirable, McLaughlin acknowledged mistakes were responsible for another defeat in France.

“The players fought tooth and nail from the first whistle to the last and that has to be recognised,” said the coach.

“But not for the first time we created problems for ourselves by making costly mistakes and conceding penalties. A lack of accuracy with the ball has cost us dearly.

“In the first half we gave away two penalties — one where we’d won the ball on our own line and the other when, after four or five phases of great defence, somebody goes and puts their hand in.

“Little things like that can be the difference between winning and losing away from home.

“There is no doubt that we are trying our eye strings out. But we’ve made critical errors in critical areas of the pitch and we’ve been punished severely.

“We did that when we lost to Munster at Thomond Park and we’ve repeated it today again.”

The 29-16 defeat now makes qualification for the quarter finals highly improbable and the players accepted it was their own fault Ulster still have not won in Paris.

Willie Faloon bemoaned the repetition of mistakes repeated from earlier in the campaign.

“We did it again. It’s a big learning curve we’re on and we have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said.

Chris Henry agreed with his back row colleague. “It’s hard coming to a place like this and it’s particularly hard when we do things that help the opposition and make things even more difficult for us.

“Too many errors. Too many penalties. We need to get those things out of our game because they do us harm.”

Initially there had been delight when Stade announced they were opting to play the match in Brussels rather than Paris and following their Ravenhill defeat the general view was that the French would have been wishing that they could reverse that decision.

Then Mother Nature intervened on their behalf, much to their relief, one suspected.

“I think yesterday was our day, not today,” is how BJ Botha put it. “If we had played them in Brussels, things might have been different. But it did not work out that way.”

Stephen Ferris agreed: “It worked out for them. It ended up being played in Paris and they made the most of it,” he said.

And once again Ulster were up against opponents who majored in being nasty.

“Horrible”, and “not very nice people” were a couple of the printable observations.

And all in all, it was a pretty unpleasant weekend.

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