Frustrated Ulster coach Les Kiss fumed that his side had only themselves to blame after Munster knocked them from the top of the Guinness PRO12 table with a 15-14 win at Kingspan Stadium last night, thanks to a late drop goal from Rory Scannell.
The rare home defeat - a first since February - came after the hosts led 14-0 in the first-half but failed to score after Rob Lyttle's 35th minute try.
The visitors, with emotions running high after their coach Anthony Foley’s passing two weeks ago, came back with 15 unanswered points and Scannell’s late blow sealed Ulster’s fate.
After another lead was thrown away, Kiss was in no mood to make excuses. He lamented: “You get to 14-0 and you win those, particularly at home. If you make a raft of errors and play away from the plan then you give them access to your half and that’s what happens.
“Their try in the second half, and the first half, came from our errors and we put in a massive shift in defence early on because we gave them access.
“When we played to the plan and turned them and made them play out of their end with an effective chase, we had them.
“But we kept offloading ball we shouldn’t. We were poor in the air, our aerial skills were very bad. You can’t give Munster that and we paid the penalty. We’re the architects of our own situation, either through the basics or just not playing smart enough.”
It could have all been different had Jackson knocked over a penalty from just outside the ‘22’ with just over 10 minutes remaining that would have meant Munster were chasing a try rather than the drop goal. The out-half appeared to be put off when a firework outside the ground went off just as he struck the ball but, again, Kiss demanded better.
“You’ve got to nail them but he missed it,” the Australian said.
With Munster making their first away trip since the passing of Foley, a plaque was placed into the away dressing room prior to kick-off, and captain Rob Herring was among the players who went with Kiss to share a post-match drink with the victors.
Herring said: “We made a commitment that no matter what, we would go in to have a beer. While it’s a battle out there, there are some things that are bigger and better.
“They’ve been through a tough time. We did it out of respect and to honour Axel. It’s just a shame the beer wasn’t as sweet as I would have liked.”
There were occasional fireworks to be heard outside the Kingspan Stadium but, inside, things were very different. This time Ulster couldn't engineer their way out of a situation that they should never have been in, in the first place.