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More Ulster Rugby stars need to stand up and take on responsibility: Anscombe

By Niall Crozier

Ulster coach Mark Anscombe did not attempt to disguise his disappointment after seeing his side come up short against Leinster for the fourth season in a row.

Asked where Saturday night's defeat ranked, the Kiwi replied: "It was right up there. We worked our way up to a good stage in the game, being in control and professional, 9-0. We were going well, had the game in control.

"They started putting us under pressure, having a crack, which we knew was going to come but we just didn't keep our composure under pressure as well as we should have.

"That took a bit of tension off them and we put it on ourselves. Then we made some poor decisions. I thought we created a couple of good opportunities – particularly in the first half, but even a couple in that second – but we just lacked composure to finish it off."

Significantly, he refused to go down the usual "we will learn from this" route used by most losing coaches. Referring to the fact that this was Ulster's fourth successive season-ending defeat by Leinster, Anscombe said: "You never want to end a season saying 'we've learned and here we are' because that has been repeated three or four times.

"The fact is we have not taken these opportunities and we need to find out why. I think there are a couple of things in our game that we have addressed and talked about which we know that we need to do better next year."

Anscombe lauded the resolve and strength within his squad, saying: "I know the character of the group, if you look at the year that we have and where we have been and where we have played and some of the results we have got. We have great character in this team and no one can ever question that."

It was not unqualified praise, however, for tellingly he added: "But we have got to balance that character with clarity in what we do and how we communicate and support each other and not rely on one or two people making decisions, the ones who create the organisation.

"Others have got to take responsibility. It's alright making a run or making a tackle, doing something good, [but] you've got to re-load, you've got to re-group, you've got to get back in position quickly. Little things like that we have got to do better than we have been."

Just as had been the case 12 months earlier when Leinster beat Ulster in the PRO12 final, it was a case of remorse and rueful reflection on yet another one that got away.

There were moments Ulster failed to exploit, leading their frustrated coach to say: "Against good teams like this you are not going to get six to eight opportunities. You may get two or three and you have got to at least take one of them, which we failed to do."

Belfast Telegraph


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