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Lethargic show leaves Ulster Rugby in need of a lift

By Michael Sadlier

Ulster coach Mark Anscombe had doubtless shared a few harsh words with his side prior to delivering some which were fit enough for public consumption.

When asked what had particularly disappointed him, the Ulster coach certainly didn't duck the question and gave his own hard-hitting analysis as Ulster's fourth PRO12 defeat – the same number they suffered throughout all last season – saw them drop one place in the PRO 12 table to fifth – 10 points off leaders Munster, who are up next at Ravenhill on Friday night.

"Maybe an easier question would be 'what didn't (disappoint)?'" was his response.

"I thought we were just lethargic, we lacked any energy, we lacked any purpose," he added before bringing some less than festive cheer to what he had witnessed on the wind-chilled RDS turf.

"We were pretty poor out there. It's the festive season and you like to think that these derby games are pretty important to the players and you wouldn't have thought that was too important to our players out there.

"Everyone enjoyed having Christmas at home and we're still at home having Christmas by the way we performed," Anscombe said just after Saturday's 19-6 defeat in Dublin.

"I don't think we had the ball at all in that first half, I mean that happens in a game it goes five minutes, 10 minutes ... if you've got some attitude about you, and you want to compete, you'll get some ball, but you don't go 40 minutes without the ball and just be content with that and we were.

"They (Leinster) came with the intent and purpose of wanting to play and we didn't match that.

"If there's one thing that's been good for the last few weeks then it's our defence when we're in our 22. We held them out time after time and that's attitude, but where was that attitude in the other aspects of the game?" the clearly frustrated coach asked.

"We were poor," he reiterated.

"Sometimes that happens and we've got to look at why that was and we don't have a lot of time to swing it around, but we've got to believe in ourselves to do that," he said regarding Munster next up.

"We got beaten up and we've got to find out why pretty quickly and turn this around to play the leaders of the competition," he added.

"Any coach would hope when you get a performance like that it won't repeat itself. In my year and-a-half here there has been that and maybe one other (performance like it) and sometimes that will happen in 45 or 46 games.

"There are good men out there who are hurting and you want them to hurt because they let themselves down and we've got to get back up and show what we're about," the coach said.

"It's a must-win game," he said regarding Munster, "and we can't afford to lose it and hopefully there will be a few guys that have been out for a period of time fit for selection and that always helps and keeps guys on their toes."

This week is clearly all about righting the wrongs.

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