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Ulster's Bill Johnston was right to try last gasp drop goal at Ospreys, says Alan O'Connor


Defended: Bill Johnston’s late drop goal attempt was thwarted

Defended: Bill Johnston’s late drop goal attempt was thwarted

Defended: Bill Johnston’s late drop goal attempt was thwarted

Ulster's Alan O'Connor has no regrets over the costly final play of their shock defeat at the hands of Ospreys on Saturday night.

Against the Welsh side who had won only once all season, the province's 26-24 reverse came only after an 83rd-minute drop goal attempt from replacement fly-half Bill Johnston was charged down.

The side had appeared to be trying to win a penalty from a more straightforward position just prior to the seemingly rushed effort but O'Connor backed the choice to roll the dice.

"It's hard to know sometimes whether to hold on to it and maybe try and get a penalty through a no-arms tackle or something," admitted the stand-in skipper.

"But credit to Bill, a lot of fly-halves would have sat in the corner and been happy to wait for the perfect picture but he stood up.

"Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't.

"I was just proud of him for going for it."

That the game came down to such fine margins was the product of a terrible first half from the province. Played in the middle of Storm Dennis, the conditions were poor and there was no doubt which side managed them better.

Ospreys led 23-10 shortly after the turn, with Ulster head coach Dan McFarland telling his players at half-time their first-half effort was not reflective of them as a group.

In what was at least a spirited comeback aided by good contributions off the bench, two converted tries had edged them ahead 24-23 by the 69th minute but the game’s winning points would ultimately come from the boot of Ospreys 10 Luke Price.

“It wasn’t us,” admitted O’Connor of the wretched first 40 minutes.

“It was a good opportunity to show who we are in that second half. We did that to an extent but we can’t be leaving ourselves with so much to do.

“It was a slow start from us. Ospreys obviously played the conditions better in the first half and took their chances when they came.

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“I think we just didn’t play in the right areas, there were mistakes and all of a sudden we were back in our ‘22’ from being in their ‘22’.

“They had the right idea —catch the ball, hit a few rucks and bang it back down there. We didn’t deal with that and they got a few set-pieces in the corner and built pressure from there.

“We got back in the game, we gave ourselves a shot, but it was a pity we couldn’t hold it out with a one-point difference.

“We left ourselves with too much to do in the end.”

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