McFarland: 'It is the hot end of the season. We will have to be on the money next week'

Ulster coach thrilled with his side’s quarter-final victory tonight.

Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

IT IS ALL coming together for Ulster. A big scalp in a knock-out game – the biggest yet of the McFarland era – and all of a sudden the possibility of this rollercoaster season ending positively is growing.

They were excellent tonight against Munster, sharp in defence, absolutely devastating in attack. To score five tries and 36 points against a team who rarely concede more than 30 was an outstanding return.

It all means Ulster have a semi-final next week in either Cape Town or Edinburgh. Let’s face it, it’ll be the Stormers. Tonight, though, was all about getting revenge on a side who have beaten them twice this season.

“We’ve found them difficult to beat; most teams find them very difficult to beat,” said Dan McFarland, the Ulster coach.

“Some of our set-piece plays, the two we got tries off, were well coached during the week and perfectly executed.

“Munster are a team that, unless you break them early, it becomes very difficult to break them down. We needed that.

“I thought that was quality.”

Asked if he feels they are better equipped to handle a semi-final of this competition than 12 months ago, he replied: “We have more strings to our bow now than we had 12 months ago, but a lot of it will come down to how we are playing at that time. If you had asked me five weeks ago, before the Edinburgh game, I would have been a little bit concerned because at that time we were not playing our best rugby.

“After the Six Nations we didn’t play brilliantly, particularly in attack, but in the last couple of games, we have started to show a bit more of what we are about, and that probably comes from a little bit of a change in mindset in how we approach it.

“So, at this stage of the season, you are going to have to be efficient in attack and defence to win games and it does not matter whether it is Stormers or Edinburgh, you are going to have to be able to score points to win those games.”

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This, however, after two defeats to Munster and after four years when they have lost key play-off games – to Leinster and Glasgow in 2019, to Leinster in the 2020 final, to Leicester last season, to Toulouse this year, they needed this.

“Does it feel like an important psychological step? In the context of the season, definitely. It certainly is for me. We played two games against Munster and we didn’t play very well in either. Then tonight, we executed. We put a lot of pressure on them. They ended up making a lot of mistakes which is probably because of the fact they were chasing the game.

“We will take confidence into the semi-final. It is the hot end of the season. We are going to be travelling next week so we know how difficult it is to travel and win games. We will have to be on the money next week.”

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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