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McFarland hails 'really important' victory as Ulster seal PRO14 play-off place

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster coach Dan McFarland hailed the mentality of his squad after they returned to the PRO14 play-offs thanks to a bonus-point 29-7 win over Edinburgh in Murrayfield last night.

With Munster beating Benetton out in Italy, the impressive victory ensured not just a spot in the knock-out stages after a two-year absence but also that their quarter-final will be played at home, likely against Connacht in the first weekend of May.

Led from the front by superb captain Iain Henderson, injuries to Marty Moore and Jacob Stockdale were the only negatives on a night when Jordi Murphy, Rob Baloucoune, Rob Lyttle and Billy Burns all scored.

"It's really important for the club," McFarland insisted.

"We want to consistently compete for championships and you can't do that if you're not in the play-offs.

"There's a dual aspect to it with Champions Cup qualification too which is secured now as well. We're a province that wants to be playing in the big games.

"We enjoyed the preparation for our Champions Cup quarter-final and we'll enjoy preparing for a PRO14 quarter-final."

Ulster will play Leinster to finish off the regular season in what is essentially a dead rubber two weeks from today with McFarland's men having produced the best possible response to last weekend's resounding loss to Glasgow in Scotstoun.

"There was a bit of misery and a lot of deserved humble pie," added McFarland of the week just gone.

"But we took the learnings and put them towards the task this week.

"To come to a side like this, a European Cup quarter-finalist, and get a bonus-point win was a testament to that mentality.

"We were messy last week in the set-piece especially.

"We did a lot of work on our scrum. We knew we could lose the game if we let them get on top of us.

"When you lose a lot of lineouts, you can't get a foothold. But we got that (last night).

"Against a really good Edinburgh team, we're a happy bunch," he added.

Connacht play Cardiff in the Sportsground this afternoon (3pm) knowing that victory will ensure they book their own place in the play-offs and will be making the trip back to Belfast having won at Kingspan Stadium back in October.

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