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Dan McFarland: 'I'm really proud of what we've done out here'

On Saturday Ulster suffered a 34-16 defeat at the hands of the Bulls.

Image: Steve Haag/INPHO

ULSTER RETURN BACK to Belfast with just one point in the bank from their two-match tour to South Africa in the United Rugby Championship, and they can consider themselves unlucky not to have secured at least one win down south.

On Saturday Ulster suffered a 34-16 defeat at the hands of the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Over the past month, South Africa has proven to be a tough place to tour in the competition, with the South African teams having won 15 of the 16 matches played at home.

ruan-nortje-and-cornal-hendricks-look-to-tackle-kieran-treadwell Source: Steve Haag/INPHO

On Saturday Ulster was in the game at fortress Loftus, but two soft moments and a yellow card to second-rower, Kieran Treadwell, cost them the game as the head coach, Dan McFarland, explained post-match.

“It was a tight game other than two errors by us in terms of the wayward pass and an intercept at the end, which was 14 points,” said McFarland.

“They came out at the start of the second half and we knew they would come out hard there and missed a couple of tackles, they ended up scoring a try off the back of a scrum.

“We gave a penalty away and then the wayward pass to take them 20-9 up. Even then we got back into it. There was some really good play to get back 20-16 and then the decision on the yellow card and that was sort of the game right there.”

Ulster should have beaten the Stormers in Cape Town, only to be denied by an incorrect decision not to award a last-minute Callum Reid try. In the South African capital city, the Ulstermen put up a good fight and were in a good position to get close to claiming a win at the death, but it was not to be.

On reflection of their tour down South, McFarland, expressed how proud he was of the team for what they were able to achieve in tough conditions.

“We’ve come away with one point, but we should have come away with four points. Our performance was deserving of four points.

“You want two wins but it is tough out here playing in these conditions. Everything is a lot tougher than it is back home. But, I’m really proud of the way the whole group, the support staff and the players have knuckled down and really worked hard. I believe that will stand to us going forward.

“It puts us in a much more difficult place in the URC, but there are a lot of good teams in the URC and we will all be fighting over those top spots. That makes it exciting.

“The Bulls were a good team today, but overall, I’m very proud of what the guys have done to make sure that we are properly prepared. In my eyes I am very grateful for that.”

Ulster will arrive back in Belfast on Monday morning for a short week heading into their Heineken Champions Cup round five tie against Toulouse at Stade Toulousain.

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Morgan Piek

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