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Ulster can draw little comfort from Benetton tie


Flying start: Louis Ludik bags a try in the first minute
Flying start: Louis Ludik bags a try in the first minute
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster coach Dan McFarland was in no mood to hail his side's rescuing of a draw against Benetton at Kingspan Stadium last night, blasting that the 17-17 tie felt like a defeat.

The province came into the game knowing that a win would see them leapfrog the Italians in the table, and in the end Scarlets, in the race for Champions Cup qualification next year. An 80th-minute penalty try salvaged the draw but not McFarland's mood.

"That's definitely a draw which felt like a loss," he moaned.

"We should have won that game. We didn't play well enough, for a lot of the time we weren't up to it.

"Physically I thought they were very strong and we always knew that was going to be the case and we struggled to deal with it defensively and in attack. It feels like a loss. We should have been better."

There will now be a break until February 15's trip to Ospreys - last night's result the end of a long run of games that seemed to leave the side lacking energy, especially after the highs of European action.

“There was a six-day turnaround but we came into that game with a lot of fresh faces and we showed a little bit of naivety in the game as well in some of the play,” said McFarland.

Having got off to the perfect start with Louis Ludik’s score after 50 seconds, Ulster didn’t score again until Rob Herring’s maul effort after 45 minutes.

“A try after 50 seconds was a nightmare,” McFarland half-joked. “You think you’ve done the job and you’ve still got 79 minutes and 10 seconds to play.

“We started well but we didn’t keep up that kind of pace in our movement and energy in our attack.

“They had a really good defence, don’t get me wrong. They were physical and they filled the line and it was very difficult to break them down and lots of teams have found that difficult this year.

“We did it early on but as we went on we knew we weren’t going to be able to bash them, we weren’t going to be able to bash the door. We had to move the ball and in order to do that you have to get into position quickly.

“And there has to be lots of energy in your attack and I didn’t see that energy.

“That’s a question for me, what did I do wrong?”

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