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Defeat in Thomond still leaves Ulster primed for battle in Bath

‘We go from one European fortress to another.’

Rob Herring makes a burst.
Rob Herring makes a burst.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

ULSTER HEAD COACH Dan McFarland said all the things you would expect of a coach who had just come off the wrong side of a closely-fought 22-16 inter-pro last night.

He lamented line-out struggles, ball retention and twice noted how disappointed he was to lose having watched his team claw into a second-half lead.

And still, it was hard to escape the sense that he was quietly quite satisfied with the performance his side put in. For it was a gritty away performance that will serve them well when they open their European campaign next weekend.

“In Thomond Park it’s intense and, for large parts of that game, physically we were excellent. We needed to be because it’s Munster in Munster,” said McFarland.

The Ulster boss singled out tighthead Marty Moore for praise, the former Wasp returned for his first match since early April and was at the forefront of a strong Ulster scrum and forward-led effort that gave the home side a scare before the game swung back away from Ulster thanks to a terrific Andrew Conway break.

Ulster begin their Heineken Champions Cup season away to Bath. A tough assignment despite Bath starting this weekend bottom of a tight Premiership table, but also an excellent opportunity to catch them while the likes of Sam Underhill and Francois Louw are at various states of post-World Cup hangovers.

“We go from one European fortress to another. Bath for a long time have prided themselves on set-piece and anyone playing in the Premiership has to be good at set-piece. We’ll have to step it up a gear going into Europe.

tom-otoole-dejected-at-the-end-of-the-game Tom O'Toole follows Jacob Stockdale off the pitch last night. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“It was good to get Marty Moore out there, I also felt Tom O’Toole did a good job when he came on.”

Setting the stall out the same way again will put Ulster on the front foot. With a little extra firepower and composure in their ranks they will hope they can turn the screw and finish the job.

To put yourself in a position where at 63, 64 minutes you’re a point ahead the game’s there for the taking, then to lose it is really disappointing.

“Ultimately, we turned the ball over in contact too much. Not handling errors, not passing errors, just in the bang and bash of contact.

”If we’d held onto the ball I think we would have caused them problems.

“I was proud of our physicality, proud of our set-piece. I thought that went well. Against a really excellent scrum and maul I thought we did well.”

Hanrahan hamstring an added concern for Munster ahead of European campaign

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Sean Farrell

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