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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 10 April 2021

'We gave Munster a chance to stay in that game for too long' - Kiss

Ulster head back into the Champions Cup after a disappointing home defeat.

ULSTER HEAD INTO three crucial European fixtures on the back of a defeat after Munster squeezed to a 9-7 victory at Kingspan Stadium, with Les Kiss expressing disappointment at the opportunities his side missed.

Louis Ludik and Franco van der Merwe dejected at the final whistle Ulster's players were left dejected in Belfast. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Ulster director of rugby felt his province had enough possession and field position to score more than the seven points they managed. Even their converted try should not have been awarded, with Chris Henry handling the ball from an offside position in the build-up.

The loss at home slightly deflates the sense of momentum around Ulster, who beat Toulouse twice last month and also saw off Connacht in Galway, although Kiss believes this result won’t do “a great deal of damage” to confidence levels.

“We gave Munster a chance to stay in that game for too long, too many times,” said Kiss post-match in Belfast.

We even started the game with an error rate that helped them to gain some confidence, but even in the second part of that first half we had enough ball there to probably get more than seven points and we didn’t. It wasn’t enough at the end of the game.

“That said, there were times in the second half where I felt we weren’t up to the same intensity levels as we have been producing in recent weeks. They stayed alive and fair play to them, they got the points.”

Conditions in Belfast were far from ideal, but Ulster often attempted to play the ball out of their own half rather than use Ruan Pienaar’s strong kicking game.

Kiss felt some of the tactical decision-making by his team was off key, as well as questioning the late choice to have a shot at goal, with Paddy Jackson missing off the tee from a difficult position.

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Paddy Jackson misses a late penalty to win the game Jackson missed a shot at goal late on. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We probably backed ourselves at the wrong time and in the wrong place a few times,” said Kiss. “Going for the three points is a decision we’ll look back on. Could we have gone to the corner and backed ourselves on the maul? That’s one decision you can look at.

“We were backing ourselves in our own 30 and the ball was going behind, we weren’t getting traction. Fair play to Munster, with the conditions you could make tackle-plus-one, three in the backfield, the space wasn’t opening up. We probably needed to be a little more direct with our carries, just forge a way over the line and then open them up.”

Ulster’s next trio of games sees them face Oyonnax twice, with a trip to Saracens in between those meetings. Their Champions Cup knock-out hopes mean a bonus point win in France next weekend looks vital

You go into the New Year and wanted to probably get on a good run at the end of the two inter-pros,” said Kiss when asked about the forthcoming games.

“It would have been nice to establish ourselves a little bit higher on the table there. We need to put it aside, be frank and be honest, and know that we’ve got three big European games ahead of us.

“The first two are away from home, so there’s challenges around the travel and all that, maintaining the momentum that we have.”

- Reporting by Sean Farrell.

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Murray Kinsella

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