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Ulster can draw no comfort from Dragons' stalemate


By Jonathan Bradley

After Christian Leali'ifano's last-gasp conversion went wide to leave Ulster with a 32-32 draw against the Dragons last night, a frustrated head coach Jono Gibbes said it would have been an undeserved win had the kick sailed over.

Leading by 12 points late on, Ulster then capitulated as they conceded three late tries.

They did manage to fight back and score in the final seconds through Leali'ifano, only for him to miss his kick.

"We had an opportunity to shut the door on them and not allow their passionate crowd to get into the game but we left the door open and they got themselves into the game," blasted Gibbes.

"Ultimately they were one kick receive away from being deserved winners."

Gibbes said: “I thought we’d given ourselves a chance (with the late score) but I’m not sure we deserved it. We hung in there and fought to create an opportunity to win which was pleasing but ultimately we got 15 minutes into the first half and created a lot of positivity but went into their ‘22’ and missed a lineout.”

That was the recurring theme for Gibbes, a former forwards coach with Leinster and Clermont, who raged that his side’s set-piece let them down.

“No matter if the rules get changed around, no matter what area you play in, there are some basic principles you still need to respect,” he said. “They are as true today as they were 100 years ago and that’s your set-piece.

“We had opportunities to close the door on the Dragons but unfortunately we left the door open as our malfunctioning lineout gave them access and they scored two lineout drive tries which is absolutely unacceptable.

“It was excellent execution by them but for us it’s not good enough and when we needed the scrum to be stable or when we needed to deny them a way out of their half it didn’t function.

“Throughout the course of the 80 we were second best in key moments around that area.”

While Ulster have moved up to second in Conference B, Edinburgh have closed the gap and Leinster will expect to take the position back from the Kingspan men when they travel to Treviso.

More unexpected dropped points had Gibbes concerned that wasted opportunities will come back to haunt Ulster this season.

“There will be a consequence for those three points and it might not be in May but earlier,” he said. “We’ll have to deal with it but that’s the consequence of not being good enough.”

Ulster women, meanwhile, begin their inter-pro series against Munster tomorrow afternoon at Barban Hill in Dromore (2pm kick-off).

New coach Derek Suffern will see his side take on Leinster and has named Irish international Larissa Muldoon as his fly-half and captain.

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