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'Munster attacked us really well - and a lot of our guys were beaten in collisions'

Ulster left nursing emotional and physical bruises after last night’s 38-10 defeat in Thomond Park.

Dan Goggin powers past Rob Lyttle.
Dan Goggin powers past Rob Lyttle.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

AFTER A THIRD defeat on the spin – this one being the most comprehensive – Ulster coach Dan McFarland is fully aware of the challenge he faces to stop their season petering out.

Last night’s 38-10 defeat to Munster had European hangover written all over it. The symptoms were evident in a first half – when a bright start by the visitors gave way to a Munster onslaught. The 28-point margin tells its own story, coming a week after they blew a sizeable lead against Leicester in the Challenge Cup semis.

“It is really difficult,” said McFarland. “There is no doubt about that. I think the Leicester game really knocked the wind out of our sails as we put a lot of store in that; that was a game we knew we could win and we put ourselves in a brilliant position to do so. But we came out of it having manufactured a loss and there is a lot of anger about that; it was deflating.

“It did put us on the back foot at the start of this week.”

And yet that was not evident in the opening minutes of last night’s game in Thomond Park. Ulster scored first – before Munster took over, running in three tries in the first half before they coped with a brief Ulster comeback before getting a further three tries in the second 40 minutes.

“We had to be in a position where we could come out and really bounce back,” said McFarland. “And we did do some stuff in that game that was good but there was nowhere near enough of it to combat the intensity with which Munster played.

“Their physicality meant that in defence, we had some trouble. Normally we would have bounce in defence but a lot of (the problems Ulster had) related to Munster’s hard running and the lines they took.

rob-herring-and-jordi-murphy-and-james-hume-dejected A dejected Hume, Murphy and Herring. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“I thought they attacked very well and a lot of our guys suffered physically within that, got knocked backwards or were beaten in the collisions. They got a lot of momentum and we suffered there.

“There were patches in the game when we did really well but there were just not enough of them.”

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Now McFarland’s first job is to pick himself up. After a largely positive season, he and his coaching staff face immediate challenges.

“We do the job we do every week, we come in and work to get better; we work on the technical aspects, on the mindset of the players and we see what we can get out of the squad. We are probably not going to play in the final now but we will try and squeeze as much out of the remaining games as we can.”

One plus point from last night’s defeat was the return of Angus Curtis after a sustained period out with injury.

“Angus is happy to be back,” said McFarland. “He had a terrible injury and to even see him back on a rugby pitch is brilliant – he is a tough young fella, someone who has not played as much rugby as he deserves. And it was just brilliant to see him back out there. I know the rest of the squad are stoked for him.”

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Garry Doyle

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