Belfast Telegraph

‘Bullied’ Ulster leave McLaughlin seething

By Ciaran Donaghy

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin admitted his side were outplayed and outfought as fired-up Leinster took the Irish derby spoils in a one-sided affair at Ravenhill last night.

Ulster went into the game on the crest of a wave with four wins from their last four games but two tries in the opening 15 minutes from Sean O'Brien put Leinster in the ascendancy and they went on to register a comfortable 13-30 victory.

McLaughlin said the performance ‘wasn’t good enough’ and even stated that having seen off Bath twice in recent weeks in the Heineken Cup, complacency may have been an issue.

“It was exceptionally disappointing, we had a chat in the changing rooms and certainly we feel we got bullied in the first half,” said McLaughlin.

“In the first 20 to 25 minutes we weren't good in contact and Leinster dominated us in the tackle and we stood and took it which wasn't pleasing.

“We could put it down to complacency after our two great victories at Bath.

“We're not happy with the performance and the players aren't happy with theirs. It just simply wasn't good enough.

“There were two soft tries that we gave away and Leinster cut us open. Isaac (Boss) was running good lines and O'Brien is a smashing footballer, he is very aggressive on the ball and we made him look very good.”

McLaughlin also dismissed suggestions that playing into a fierce wind in the first half didn’t help their cause.

“You can say we shouldn't have played into the wind in the first half but if you look at Ulster traditionally we always like to play with the wind in the second half,” he said.

“In the first five minutes we kept the ball but we gave away a soft penalty and our discipline wasn't good.

We are willing to admit it wasn't right or good enough and we gave Leinster a few Christmas presents,”

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt was delighted with the result that lifts his side above Ulster in the Magners League but unlike McLaughlin, he felt Ulster’s decision to give Leinster the use of the elements in the first half after Johann Muller had won the toss was vital.

“We didn't win the toss and they give us the us the wind, so we tried to make sure that we played them in the right area and make sure that we hurt them when we got the opportunity,” he said.

“Thankfully we got the opportunity but it wasn't particularly well structured at times, I think the set pieces struggled a bit, the ground was a little bit slippery.

“The conditions were quite tricky and Ulster knew against the wind they would have to play with the ball and we knew that as well.

“We knew if we could put some defensive pressure on them we could force some errors.”

He added: “It's the first time I've been to Ravenhill and I'd heard a fair bit about it and how it was a real fortress.

“Ulster were going really well on the back of two wins against Bath and even further back than that they had really good away win at Cardiff where they got a bonus point win with pretty much the same team that played here, so it’s a great win for us.”

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