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McFarland gutted for Curtis, but sees progress in high-scoring loss to Leinster

Ulster’s strong finish left Leo Cullen disappointed with how the 14-try match ended.

Angus Curtis, right, tackles Fergus McFadden.
Angus Curtis, right, tackles Fergus McFadden.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IT WAS MORE a night for soft edges and blurred lines than definitives as Leinster and Ulster grabbed a bonus point apiece while dishing up a 54-42 shoot-out at the RDS.

However, for Ulster playmaker Angus Curtis it proved to be a nightmare before Christmas as he suffered a horrible injury during the second half when he powered his way into contact in Leinster’s 22.

“We’re really disappointed for him. It’s gutting for him,” said Ulster head coach Dan McFarland, who questioned the legality of Scott Fardy’s defence in the incident.

”He got injured in a tackle that looked high to me. George (Clancy, referee) didn’t think so at the time. I haven’t had a chance to look back at it.

“A typical situation for Angus, carrying the ball into the teeth of a defence at 100 miles an hour and showing no fear. We’re gutted for him but that’s typical of the man, showing that.”

Despite McFarland needing to put a makeshift look on his already altered back-line after Curtis left the field, Ulster managed to finish the stronger of the sides while grounding six tries.

The majority of those scores came when the match was already beyond Ulster, but both coaches justifiably paid heed to how the final quarter unfolded.

“We lose our way a little bit.” Says Cullen while he’s talking through the second half.

“It’s a good experience for a lot of our lads as well, we had a lot of academy guys in there, it’s just another step in their development.

andrew-porter-picks-up-david-oconnor Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Pleasing to get a bonus point, but disappointing clearly to concede that many points, particularly here at home.”

He added: “unfortunately, that’s the feeling we have now, it’s a frustrating feeling.”

McFarland was also sifting through a mishmash of positive and negatives. With a similarly under-strength line-up for this fixture in January they suffered a sorry-looking 40-7 loss.

On top of a point to show for their efforts last night and to add to their Conference A tally, they finished the game on a 0-21 scoring run.

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“We’ve got to be pleased with six tries at the RDS and scored 42 points, not many teams do that here,” said McFarland.

ethan-mcilroy-with-fergus-mcfadden Teenage Ethan McIlroy made his debut from the bench for Ulster. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“I see progress in four new caps and Dave (O’Connor) in his first start. All five showed up well and had a good impact. From that point of view there’s definitely progress.”

“Look, it’s only the final score that matters. When they needed to play well and they needed to get on top of us they did and that was the winning of the game.

“As I say, last year we couldn’t get a grasp back and today we could. That earned us a bonus point and we deserved a bonus point which was fair credit to the lads out on the pitch.”

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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