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Uslter Rugby coach Mark Anscombe far from impressed by careless display

By Niall Crozier

After watching his side lose 17-9 to Scarlets, a clearly frustrated Mark Anscombe admitted that Ulster cannot afford too many more defeats.

Last season, Ulster lost only four of their 22 RaboDirect PRO12 games. But a little over two months into the 2013-14 campaign, already they have lost three times in seven outings.

"It's only a third of the way so there's a long way to go, but that's our third loss and we can't have too many more," Anscombe said.

He also highlighted badly disrupted preparation plus some poor discipline as factors in his side's defeat.

The absence of eight Ireland internationals, coupled with the loss of three more who were called up to provide injury cover before being released on Thursday, clearly created difficulties in the build-up.

"We didn't have a great week's preparation and I think that showed in the way we played," said Anscombe. "We had a bit of disruption because of the guys going back and forth to Dublin.

"We didn't want to use that as an excuse but we didn't manage to get them training long enough before this game to do a job."

Second-half yellow cards for David McIlwaine and Roger Wilson added to the problem, as did the fact that Ruan Pienaar had a bad night off the tee.

And pinpointing the cost of self-inflicted wounds – "indiscipline cost us the points" was his synopsis – Anscombe noted that Scarlets' try had followed the concession of a penalty from which they put the ball into the corner, enabling George Earle to get over from a maul off the line-out.

"Then we gave away a penalty right on half-time and they kicked that, so eight points," he fumed.

Highlighting his side's inability to gain possession – and on the rare occasions when they did, to retain it – he said: "We didn't build any phases to put them under pressure."

And although conditions were horrible, he refused to use that as an excuse.

"They were tough, but it was the same for both teams," he said. "They looked after the ball well and put a lot of phases together. We didn't do it once in the second-half."

His straight-to-the-heart summary was: "We didn't front up today."

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