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McFarland hopeful after Stockdale limps out of defeat to Leinster
The Ulster boss found reason to be optimistic through his team’s second-half showing when they pulled within a score of Leinster.

DAN MCFARLAND didn’t spare the whip in the immediate aftermath of Ulster’s loss to Connacht last weekend. But there was a softer focus on the performance of the group in tonight’s 10-28 loss to Leinster.

There were mitigating factors aplenty, foremost a Coronavirus-disrupted training week.

The sense that Ulster played their way into something like a rhythm and form by the end of the inter-pro clash at the Aviva may also have given McFarland hope to build on ahead of next weekend’s semi-final away to Edinburgh.

“We notched it up and looked much more like ourselves,” said McFarland in the virtual press conference from the depths of the stadium when asked about his team’s mentality and intensity.

“In the context of losing, I was happy with that (attitude). It’s a fundamental part of the game and fundamental part of our game. Without it you can’t do anything.

“This week we had another issue in that we couldn’t get out of our own way in terms of errors and silly penalties. Couldn’t get any rhythm in the game. When we did we looked good, but you can’t sustain pressure against a team like Leinster if you keep making mistakes like that.

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He added:

We’re not where we need to be at at the moment, but we’ve got a semi-final to play. We’re one of four teams who does and we’re happy we’ve another game to play.”

The head coach will hope a solid week of training ahead will see his team iron out those errors.

He is also hopeful that Jacob Stockdale will be fit to play a part in Edinburgh despite limping off during the second half this evening.

It was too early to offer an update on Jordi Murphy who went off the field for a HIA shortly after the fullback.

“He (Stockdale) took a couple of bangs on his lower leg, around his shin. So my understanding is it’s not a strain or anything.

“It’s just a few bangs in the same place one after another. I’d be hopeful that he’s alright.”

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