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Ulster their own worst enemy as perfect start goes west with Connacht

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 08/10/2016

Touchdown: Ulster’s Craig Gilroy scores his side’s first try at the Sportsground in Galway last night
Touchdown: Ulster’s Craig Gilroy scores his side’s first try at the Sportsground in Galway last night
Cian is able: Ulster’s Louis Ludik can’t stop Cian Kelleher diving over as Connacht got the better of their provincial rivals in Galway last night

Director of Rugby Les Kiss said Ulster were their own worst enemies after their blistering start to the season came to an abrupt end with a 30-25 defeat to rivals Connacht at the Sportsground last night.

The visitors were caught cold from the off with the champions leading 19-3 before half an hour had elapsed and tries in response from Craig Gilroy, Rory Best and Jared Payne would not bring any more than a losing bonus point.

In the raucous Galway venue, Kiss felt his side were undone by too many individual errors.

"We were pretty frank in the dressing room and that was mostly led by the guys," he said.

"We were disappointed with what we delivered. It wasn't all bad but it wasn't enough to win, that's for sure.

"We made three or four errors in the opposition '22' in the first 10 minutes.

"We were our own worst enemies. I think we hurt ourselves. Give them credit but there's a lot of things we did wrong. That was us and that's not to take anything from them."

While Ulster were far better after the turn, and drew level only minutes into the second-half, Kiss was far from satisfied with his side only showing their best rugby in fits and starts.

"We know what we're capable of but it's no use doing it for 10 or 15 minutes," he added.

“We had the ascendancy at that stage,” said Kiss.

“Got a penalty and Paddy (Jackson) doesn’t make the kick (to the corner).

“Three minutes later, it’s a try and that’s a turning point,” he added.

“We’re in collective agreement that we were below the line for certain periods.

“It’s probably something to reflect on after we look at the video,” he said.

“Whether it was a missed tackle, a sloppy penalty, a dropped ball… those things they matter, especially when you put a lot together and we put a lot together,” he added.

With a new skipper in Jared Payne, Kiss backed a decision late on to go for the corner rather than the posts and reduce the deficit even though the call resulted in no points when a makeshift backline — the product of injuries to Darren Cave (calf) and Louis Ludik (head) that make both massive doubts for next week’s European game with Bordeaux — was chalked off for crossing by makeshift centre Brett Herron.

“I don’t think it was such a bad decision that we would say it was the wrong one,” commented Kiss.

“We back the players to back themselves.

“Once Cavey went down we had to put Louis into 12 and then Jared into 13, then Louis goes off and Brett comes into 12.

“He’s done a lot of good work with us but he’s not overly familiar.

“It was just a bit of timing but I still expect us to execute that better.”

While the Australian had no complaints with that decision, he was baffled that the opposition started the second-half with 15 men despite supposedly having a player (Conor Carey) in the sin bin.

“I can’t understand how it can happen,” said Kiss.

“He’s out there and it makes a difference.

“If it doesn’t make a difference then why have sin bins?

“I can’t believe it to tell you the truth and they wouldn’t give us an answer at the time.

“That’s the nature of it but it wasn’t why we lost,” admitted Kiss, who will now turn his atention to Bordeaux next Sunday.

Belfast Telegraph

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