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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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McFarland thrilled as Ulster produce their best when they needed it most

The province booked a home Pro14 quarter-final with a big away win over Edinburgh last night.

Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee celebrate at full-time at Murrayfield.
Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee celebrate at full-time at Murrayfield.
Image: Craig Watson/INPHO

AFTER TWO TOUGH weeks, Dan McFarland was a happy man after seeing his Ulster team come away from Edinburgh with everything he had hoped for and a scoring bonus point to add a little extra sparkle to the night. 

Ulster’s 29-7 win at Murrayfield has not only guaranteed the province a spot in the Guinness Pro14 play-offs but also given them a home draw when they face the third-placed side in Conference A.

It also ensured Ulster will be back in the Heineken Champions Cup next season.

Friday night’s performance had been a complete reversal of their struggles the week before in Glasgow, when everything misfired and the misery of the night included conceding a scoring bonus point as the Scottish forwards dominated the set piece.

“We had a big debrief on Monday, there was a bit of misery and a lot of humble pie, which was deserved,” McFarland acknowledged. “We came out, took the learnings and moved on.

“We knew we had a massive task this week, to come to our fellow Champions Cup quarter-finalists and win. In the end, the bonus point was a testament to the hard work and the mentality of the guys during the week and what they put on the pitch against a really good Edinburgh team.

We were a bit messy last week around our set-piece but there was a big improvement. We did a lot of work on the scrum in the week. We knew that was going to be titanic — it was not going to win the game for us but could certainly lose the game if we let Edinburgh get on top of us.

“We also needed possession. Last week, it did not look good but we did play some really good rugby. The bottom line is that when you lose a lot of lineouts, as we did then, you cannot get a foothold in the game. In this game, we were consistently able to get a foothold.”

Ulster now have a week off to build towards a big quarter-final at Kingspan Stadium, with Connacht, Ospreys and Cardiff Blues all still in the running to advance. 

“It is really important for the club, we are a team that wants consistently to compete for championships and to do that, you have to be in play-offs,” said McFarland. “There is the dual aspect of also getting Champions Cup qualification, which is done now. That is very important as well.”

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Lewis Stuart

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