Ulster head coach Dan McFarland: How we lost our way in Limerick

By Michael Scully

It was another bad night for Ulster at Thomond Park on Saturday as Dan McFarland awaits news on the health of key backs John Cooney and James Hume with Europe in mind.

The visitors came locked and loaded with a strong side targeting a first win in Limerick since May 2014.

But from a winning position, McFarland blamed poor decision-making rather than a poor performance or wrong tactics for a failure to build on a 13-6 lead against the Reds' 14 men.

"It's very tough to take," said McFarland.

"The conditions even it out a bit in the fact that it was difficult to move the ball with any width, so the fact that they have a winger missing makes it difficult.

"I thought the territory stuff in the second half we did pretty well, but then lost our way a bit on two or three occasions and it resulted in them getting the ball in our half.

"Rugby is littered with games like this, backs to the wall with 14 men turning it around and end up winning because they're galvanised with the loss, and unfortunately, we're on the end of it.

"It's so difficult to come down here and win. That was our opportunity and we let it slip."

Cooney and Hume both went off injured and it remains to be seen if they will be available for Sunday's trip to Northampton in the Champions Cup as the province look to build on the opening pool wins in Clermont and at home to the Saints.

McFarland spoke of "quite a long list" of improvements to be made for the weekend on the back of a disappointing loss.

The turning point, he feels, was Mike Haley's try for Munster after Kieran Treadwell was yellow carded for the visitors in the 59th minute for a tip tackle on Shane Daly.

"It was the try coming off the back of the penalty offence," he said.

"Winning the middle third was huge for us, and one of the things you can't do is give penalties away in the middle third, because that gives access.

"When you lose a forward in conditions like that and offer them the opportunity to do what they want to do and what they're good at, you're going to end up suffering, aren't you?

"The strategy that the guys are employing in the second-half was working for us. We just needed to persist with it and make sure we did it correctly."


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