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'We're really disappointed': Ulster coach Dan McFarland outlines reasons for Leinster defeat


Ulster's Ethan McIlroy battles with Robbie Henshaw and Jordan Larmour of Leinster (INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Ulster's Ethan McIlroy battles with Robbie Henshaw and Jordan Larmour of Leinster (INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ulster's Ethan McIlroy battles with Robbie Henshaw and Jordan Larmour of Leinster (INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland admitted his side made too many mistakes to win at the home of a team like Leinster after the northern province fell 24-12 in the key PRO14 contest.

The visitors, in search of a first away-day victory against the reigning champions since 2013, had led 9-5 at the turn in the RDS having weathered a first-half sin-binning for Marcell Coetzee but were second-best after the restart.

Three of Leinster's four tries would come in the second-half, the last through James Tracy ensuring a try-bonus and, in turn, denying Ulster at least the consolation of losing-bonus. With four John Cooney penalties all his side would muster, McFarland pointed to the mistakes made in the third quarter as the key to turning the tide in Leinster's favour.

"We're really disappointed," he said. "We came down here with a side that we thought would put in a really good performance and for a lot of that game we did, certainly the first half.

"Against a more or less fully-loaded Leinster team, at half-time we had put ourselves in a good position with some smart play, some strong play and some physical play. The start of the second-half we made two errors giving away penalties in our third of the pitch and then knocking on when we had a chance to get some possession in their half.

"They got a period of pressure and try off and that was really the flipping of the game. We were on the back foot from there.

"There was a huge amount of effort in terms of the preparation, the mental intensity and the physical effort but ultimately if you're not closer to error-free football here in Leinster they're going to make you pay and they did."

The result, and moreover the 5-0 distribution of match-points, has altered the dynamics of the PRO14's conference A with Leinster now just five points behind Ulster but with two games in hand. With only one of the sides able to advance to the final in March, fans throughout the provinces will be doing their fair share of scoreboard watching over the season's concluding rounds.

McFarland, though, stressed his side will only be focused upon their own business.

"That's a question that's always asked by you guys," he said. "You may say it's a cliche but genuinely we take every game as it comes.

"Another week, another game and if you chalk up four or five points you've done well. That's what we'll look to do for the rest of the season. We can't control what Leinster are doing in their games, we can't control what Glasgow are doing, we can only control what we're doing in ours.

"That's what we'll carry on doing."

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Ulster now leave PRO14 action to one side as they prepare for their final two pool fixtures in the Champions Cup.

Having lost to both Toulouse and Gloucester already, they are all but out of Europe ahead of a visit from the Cherry and Whites next Saturday.

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