Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Tyrone Howe: Only a victory will do against Munster after sloppy defeats

The settings could not have been more different: the sunshine and heat of the South of France — the rain and cold of Scotland’s capital; a buzzing fortress of passion and intensity — a stadium light on numbers and atmosphere.

Biarritz and Edinburgh five days apart provided their own challenges, but it must have felt like déjà vu.

Rather than go on about the second halves of each game, I would rather focus on what I believe is a major contributor to the mistakes.

In short, frustration and pressure, which arise through first half performances.

Against Biarritz, Ulster had a scrum in front of the opposition posts — it was the perfect attacking position and platform, yet it yielded nothing.

The situation was reversed at Murrayfield and the Scottish side scored after two phases.

Then, just before half time, Ulster were hammering the Edinburgh line but a lack of composure and an unforced error let Edinburgh off the hook.

Despite going in at the interval ahead, the latent frustration at missed chances manifests itself as the game wears on and takes its toll on the players’ skills.

The message is clear — keep calm and deliver the points when they are on offer, and the natural consequence is that the skills will reappear.

A six-match unbeaten start was a great launch into the season.

Two losses are a jolt, but a third defeat, this time at Ravenhill, would take major gloss off the first two months of the season.

A win against a Munster side, heavily weakened by IRFU obligations and injury, is a must. The issues will not disappear overnight but a win will go some way to assuage the concerns of players, coaches and supporters alike.

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