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Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Ben Brady/INPHO Connacht's Paul Boyle gets yellow-carded.
# Gutted
Andy Friend: 'The frustrating thing for us is we made it too easy for them'
Connacht’s director of rugby was reacting to his side’s 26 point defeat to Ulster in Belfast this evening.

ANDY FRIEND, THE Connacht director of rugby, lamented his side’s discipline after their heavy defeat in Belfast this evening.

Five Ulster tries contributed to a huge 36-10 victory for the hosts at the Kingspan in the first interpro of the season and afterwards Friend spoke bluntly about the mistakes his team made.

“It wasn’t pleasant, was it? I thought the first 35 minutes was a pretty good contest, there were errors from both sides, but it was one of those arm wrestles, and they got that score just before half time to make it 14-0.

“We kicked the next penalty and came in at half time, and weren’t happy, but we said we knew it’s tough to win up here. We had 40 minutes to turn the screw and try and get some momentum and pressure, and we did the opposite.

“We gave away five penalties in eight minutes. They got two scores and that was the game right there; we were trying to force things at that stage and Ulster were just more clinical than we were.

“They deserved that victory and that scoreline. The frustrating thing for us is we made it too easy for them.”

It doesn’t get any easier for Connacht. Next up is the Strormers in Cape Town, then the Bulls the week after. That’s three of last season’s semi-finalists away from home in the opening weeks of the season.

“It doesn’t look like we’re in a good spot, does it?

“But going to South Africa, there is actually no better challenge for us because we have some pretty high desires of what we want to achieve this year. We want to make playoffs, but look, we’re going to have to fix it and fix it pretty quickly.

josh-murphy-dejected-after-conceding-a-try Ben Brady / INPHO Josh Murphy is dejected after the defeat. Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

We know we have work to do.

“Our discipline was really poor, and just the simplicity of some of those errors. For us as a group, the coaches will always look at what we’ve done to make that happen.”

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Ulster coach, Dan McFarland, added: “Any time we get a win in an interpro we’re happy and a bonus-point win is very pleasing. Connacht are a good team and you don’t need me to tell you that they’ve caused us trouble in the past, particularly around the breakdown and their physicality off the line disrupting our attacking game.

“With this in mind, I was pleased with the way our breakdown worked but (was) not (pleased) with our accuracy or execution. We created a lot but we weren’t as accurate as we needed to be. 

“Physically we controlled the game in terms of our maul, our scrum and some of the collisions there.

“It was important we ground it out. I was pleased that we didn’t lose our composure when we weren’t executing in the early stages of the game. Overall, it was a good night.”

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