Ulster Rugby captain Johann Muller began to dream about the perfect farewell
Ulster captain Johann Muller was magnanimous in defeat.
"If a team is better than their opposition then they deserve to win trophies. And this Leinster team obviously know what it takes; they are an outstanding rugby team and they deserve every single trophy that they have won in the last five years," the now-retired 34-year-old said.
Highlighting Leinster's record against Ulster in one-off games, Muller noted: "We said during the week we'd played these guys three times in play-offs in the last three years and were zero out of three, so we were really keen to make it one out of four.
"At a stage it looked like we had the better of them, but once again it shows you the quality of this Leinster side; they know when to raise their game.
"They've obviously played in play-off games plenty of times in the last five-six years and I think that experience and knowing what they need to do just showed again in the last few minutes.
"I thought they were absolutely outstanding defensively. Whenever we got five or six metres from their line they just seemed to find an extra gear defensively.
"It's not one of those I think we lost, it's one of those that they basically won."
Muller exited on 59 minutes, with Ireland lock Dan Tuohy taking over for the final quarter. Ulster led 9-3 and Muller admitted he had been thinking of the final against Glasgow on May 31 when he bowed out, rather than that he had just played his last-ever match.
"I came off because I thought I'd need a bit of recovery for a couple of week's time, but that's the way this game works," he said. "Obviously being 9-3 up when I left – and playing some good rugby – I thought we definitely had a big chance of winning that.
"But there was one score in that game all the time and they were the ones who took that opportunity. They'd one opportunity and they took it.
"But I thought we came back well. That last two minutes, you know, we could have won a penalty easily in those 10-15 phases we put up. But like I said earlier, a huge amount of credit to them defensively – I thought they were outstanding."
Asked if Ulster's problem in not winning trophies now is largely psychological, Muller said: "Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Maybe it's ability a bit and a bit of experience as well.
"Leinster have been in this situation how many times in the last five years – 10, 15 times? And we've been four times. So it makes a difference when you know you've got to push your body that extra step, that extra five yards that you're not used to, and they obviously know what it takes.
"It does take something special to win trophies; it doesn't just happen because you're a nice bunch of guys and you enjoy the game. You've got to take that extra step and obviously they know what it takes – and we don't know yet."