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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 6 April, 2020

'We didn't represent our squad the way we should': Ulster hammered in South Africa

It was a tough night for Dan McFarland’s side.

Luke Marahall in action in Bloemfontein.
Luke Marahall in action in Bloemfontein.
Image: Frikkie Kapp/INPHO

ULSTER WERE LEFT licking their wounds after losing 63-26 to the Toyota Cheetahs in a Pro14 hammering on Saturday evening in Bloemfontein.

The South African side ran in nine tries on the night to inflict a heavy defeat on Dan McFarland’s men, who had made a bright start to the season with victory over Ospreys last week.

McFarland admitted that facing a confident and settled Cheetahs outfit away from home with players at the World Cup and injured, is not an easy task.

“There is not a chance I lie in bed the night before a game that I imagine this happening,” the head coach said afterwards.

“There is always that possibility that if you play against the Cheetahs and you are not on top of your game that they will get away from you. That is exactly what happened to us.

“The bottom line is that the Cheetahs are playing well and they are on a roll. They are coming off the back of eight games in winning the Currie Cup. They have got all of their players apart from their tighthead prop playing for them. It was an emotional night for them and Ruan Pienaar. So, I think that things were rolling in their favour.

Whereas for us we are at the start of our campaign, and we’ve got nine or 10 front-liners not playing. We knew how we needed to play today and we didn’t execute that. We were punished for that and they were the deserved winners.

The Cheetahs also have a similar number of players not available as Aranos Coetzee (Namibia) and Ruben de Haas (USA) are at the World Cup while Darren Adonis is with the Springbok Sevens. A further six players are injured and not fully fit, including the likes of Oupa Mohoje, Luan de Bruin, Charles Marais, Clayton Blommetjies and Justin Basson.

The Cape Town-born Irish international and Ulster captain Rob Herring was perhaps a little more diplomatic when asked about his team’s performance and owned up to the fact they did not execute basics well.

“To be fair to the Cheetahs, they took their opportunities,” the hooker said.

“They had a few tries from end-to-end. We will admit that as Ulster we weren’t good tonight. We didn’t play and represent our squad the way that we should. Ultimately the Cheetahs were very good, they used their opportunities and showed that they are a quality side.

“The Cheetahs had a good run into the Pro14. They are a pretty well-gelled side and they showed it. They actually look like they are having fun out on the park. We are still finding those connections in our side and we will get more fluid. That doesn’t happen if you don’t deliver on the basics.”

Ulster travel to Port Elizabeth this week where they will face the winless Southern Kings next Saturday.

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Morgan Piek

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