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Les Kiss critical after Ulster suffer another defeat

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss admitted to a frustration that his side's defensive work was not matched by their play with ball in hand in last night's loss to Leinster.

The visitors could only manage a solitary Paddy Jackson penalty over the course of the 80 minutes and, while credit should be given to how they held Leinster in check given the territory their hosts enjoyed over the final hour, a mauled try from Sean Cronin in the minutes before half-time provided all the attack that Leo Cullen's side would need.

Having scored just one try in the three games since they ran in a quartet of scores against Munster at the end of October, Kiss said: "It's throuroughly disappointing.

"The second-half was a cracking day, if we could put that into the first-half then we would have been more than good enough.

"Even in the last few minutes of that half if Iain Henderson holds his run a little bit maybe we could have ended that half strongly.

"In hindsight Leinster pushed themselves up into the right positions enough times to get that second driving maul that brought the score. We had one chance at that but couldn't get it done and Leinster were able to push themselves back up the pitch.

"If we had done those things more in the first-half though I'd be a lot happier.

"I want to take those positives and, that's not taking away from the fact that it is a loss.

"We lost the toss, everyone loves to play into the wind in the second-half and it changes the dynamics.

"Not winning the toss is no excuse but it did make it difficult.

"You look at the last period of that second-half, both teams have had a good crack at each other.

"We certainly put the pressure on and they turned up and aimed up.

"We did try to play footy and Paddy Jackson was central to that.

"I thought he did well.

"In that second half we forced the issue a bit more and developed the shapes that we're trying to work on but you don't want to be putting that up every week and not getting over the try line.

"I'm not going to lose confidence in the boys and what they're doing."

The defeat, coupled with wins for Glasgow and Edinburgh last night, saw Ulster drop down to seventh in the Pro12 table and Kiss stressed that it was hugely important to get back to winning ways against Edinburgh next week before Champions Cup play resumes with a double-header against Toulouse.

"It's massive for sure," he said.

"Whichever team lost or won tonight, it wasn't going to define the season. I think there's still a lot of water to go under the bridge but obviously it becomes tighter every time you lose.

"Pressure is a constant in this game and you can look at the ladder and respond to it in a negative fashion or you can use it to take up the challenge.

"The next challenge for us is Edinburgh now.

"We have to face up to it. They're really physical, they play a simple enough brand of rugby but it's really effective for them. It gets results.

"We've got to get a result at home, that's for sure."

Belfast Telegraph

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