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McFarland: 'I can’t understand why that’s not a try... In my head, we won that game'

The Ulster boss was bewildered by the final result of a TMO check on what would have been a decisive try by Callum Reid.

Ulster coach Dan McFarland.
Ulster coach Dan McFarland.
Image: Tom Maher/INPHO

ULSTER COACH DAN McFarland has expressed his frustration after a controversial decision at the death resulted in a narrow loss against the Stormers.

The Stormers hung on for a dramatic 23-20 win against Ulster at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. The result may have been different, however, if the visitors were awarded a try in the 79th minute.

As replacement prop Callum Reid attempted to place the ball over the tryline, Stormers flanker Hacjivah Dayimani knocked it loose from his grasp, slightly backwards out of the Ulsterman’s hands. Referee Gianluca Gnecchi and the officials debated the incident at length, before awarding the Stormers a five-metre scrum for what the officials perceived to be a Reid knock-on.

From there, the Stormers went on to secure the win. Ulster had to be content with a losing bonus point.

After the match, McFarland suggested that the officials had got it wrong.

“I’ve got to be careful what I say here,” McFarland began, wary of criticising the officials. “But I can’t understand why that’s not a try.

“If it’s not a try, then why is it a knock-on [against Ulster]? They deliberately knocked the ball out of our hands. I don’t get that.

“I’ll wait to hear what they have to say about it,” he added.

Ulster should be proud of their performance. Despite all the pre-match talk about the debilitating South African heat, Ulster grew stronger and stronger over the course of the game.

McFarland was impressed by the second-half display, regardless of the final result.

“In my head, we won that game, so we will move on. We don’t have the four log points, but there were a lot of positives.

“We got hit early [and conceded two tries]. It was good play by them and poor play by us.

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“We grew as the game progressed. Our aerial game in particular. We also managed to generate a lot of momentum close to the line.

“We put good pressure on them and then scored a good try at the end.”

Stormers coach John Dobson appeared more relieved than elated when he addressed the media afterwards.

He also went out of his way to praise Ulster for their performance.

“They’re one of best club teams in the world,” Dobson said. “They really played well and trapped us with their contestable kicking game in the second half. It was a very clever tactic, and very well executed.

“On the other hand, we showed a lot of courage to hang on at the death. It wasn’t pretty, but I was particularly impressed with our scrum performance right at the end, where we won those penalties.”

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Jon Cardinelli

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