Belfast Telegraph

Head coach Dan McFarland has mixed feelings after Ulster score six tries but still lose to rivals Leinster

Leinster's Rob Kearney scores a try despite the efforts of Ulster's Ethan McIlroy (INPHO/Billy Stickland)
Leinster's Rob Kearney scores a try despite the efforts of Ulster's Ethan McIlroy (INPHO/Billy Stickland)
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland admitted to contrasting emotions after his side's 54-42 defeat at the RDS on Friday night.

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It's been more than four years since they last earned a point from Leinster's home venue, a second-half fightback ensuring that they would bring a try-scoring bonus back up the M1 from a game they trailed by a score of 54-21 with just more than an hour gone.

With both sides fielding second strings in the final match before Christmas, McFarland was pleased to see his inexperienced side take something from a contest that at one stage seemed sure to rival last season's heavy defeats both here and against Munster in Limerick.

"I think after the first-half we learned that we still have some way to go," he said of a game that featured 14 tries split eight to six, the last three all to Ulster.

"When they were on their 'A' game and we were down to 13, we really couldn't handle the pace of the game. That was nothing to do with a lack of effort or a bit of bite because we showed that a lot.

"They scored two tries when we went down to 14 men and deservedly went in at half-time a chunk in the lead. It was very difficult for us when they had the ball.

"What I learned in the second-half, comparatively when we played here last year and when we played down at Munster last year in the interpros and got knocked over early on we couldn't get back in the game or impose our game on the opposition. Here we did.

"We found a way back into the game and we changed the way we were playing. We played some fantastic stuff in that second-half."

Marring the hard-earned point, however, is an apparently serious injury sustained by centre Angus Curtis.

The young number 12 required a stretcher to help him from the field with replays at the ground showing a sickening impact to his lower leg.

The former Ireland under-20s international was set to spend the night in a Dublin hospital.

 "We're really disappointed for him," added McFarland. "It's gutting for him. He got injured in a tackle that looked high to me.

"George (Clancy, the referee) didn't think so at the time. I haven't had a chance to look back at it. I will do now.

"It's really disappointing. The situation happened in a typical situation for Angus, carrying the ball into the teeth of a defence at 100 miles an hour and showing no fear.

"We're gutted for him but that's typical of the man, showing that bravery."

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