Ulster 'devastated' after losing to Edinburgh with the last kick of the game
Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes admitted his side were "devastated" after losing to Edinburgh with the last kick of the game at Kingspan Stadium last night.
The 17-16 reverse, sealed by Duncan Weir's drop goal with the clock red, sees the province fall out of the Conference B play-off spots for the first time this season and Champions Cup qualification for next year far from guaranteed with only six games of the campaign remaining.
Having only trailed for two minutes of a must-win game, to lose in the manner they did was difficult for Gibbes to take.
"We're pretty devastated in the dressing shed," said Gibbes.
"We put a hell of a lot of effort into that game, and the sheer amount of defence we did ultimately cost us. The game being won on the last action was probably a reflection of how much energy we put into our defending to stay in it, because they managed a few things better than us. "
Gibbes added: "They got more and more attack at us, and we worked really hard on defence and you can't question that.
"It was just the sheer amount of defence we had to do that gave them their chance and they were clinical enough to create that drop goal."
With four of their six remaining fixtures away from home, Ulster are now up against it for the remainder of the year and will need to dramatically improve their road form if they are to get back in the quarter-final mix by the end of April.
"We've got ourselves in a position," admitted Gibbes.
"We knew it was going to be tight anyway, even if the result had gone our way.
"Edinburgh have improved a hell of a lot and we're going to keep fighting. We know the quality of Scarlets and Edinburgh ahead of us.
"It's going to be really really tight and it's just gotten a heck of a lot tighter for us."
Further still than the devastating effect of the result on the table, Ulster are again sweating over injuries.
Having lost Charles Piutau, Sean Reidy and Rob Lyttle in the big win over Southern Kings a week ago, the province saw two players they could ill-afford to lose ship knocks last night in Craig Gilroy and Johnny McPhillips.
McPhillips, who had impressed since being handed the 10 jersey, being struck down leaves the side massively short of options at out-half.
"They're significant enough," confirmed Gibbes.
"We can't afford to lose a 10, so who's the guy who gets injured? The 10.
"That caused us a bit of a problem on organisation and, unfortunately, there was no lack of endeavour or effort, it just wasn't clinical enough.
"We've pulled Pete Nelson out of the club game (for Ballynahinch) which is disappointing for him because he's going into the Scarlets week without much rugby under his belt."