Ulster may have finished their pre-season build-up undefeats wtih two wins and a draw, but it was the performance of the side in the last of the games against Newcastle Falcons which left new head coach, Mark Anscombe somewhat disappointed.
The New Zealander had come across as a straight-talker in recent weeks - and what was how it was in the wake of the 24-20 victory over the England championship side at Ravenhill.
“I was disappointed. It was not a good performance from us at all,” Anscombe (below) said.
And that in spite of four tries - two from Nick Williams in the first half, another from Michael Allen and a try of season contender for Jared Payne.
Yes, those tries were one of a few positives for Anscombe.
The other was another solid performance from Luke Marshall at first centre.
“I thought Luke had a great game,” said the coach.
“But he lacked support at times and that was disappointing.”
Another aspect of disappointment was the breakdown area.
“Against Bayonne I thought we were very dominant in that department.
“But we were a bit off against Leicester Tigers last week and it was the same again against Newcastle.”
However, it was not a doom and gloom scenario with a case of going back to the drawing board as the PRO12 opener with Glasgow Warriors in Belfast approaches this Friday night.
Will the side be able to correct the things.
“We will have to fix it,” was the reply.
Anscombe said: “I think it may just be a timely reminder for us as to where we are.
“We are not pressing any panic buttons, there are just a few things we have to look at closely this week and correct.
“I am confident we can do that.”
Meanwhile, although Paul Marshall may be given the all clear to return to the side this week, it looks as though young rookie, Michael Heaney could be in line for his first competitive start for Ulster against Glasgow.
Marshall, who toured with Ireland over the summer and then had an elbow operation, is one of a couple of frontliners who could come back into the frame this week.
Heaney, who returned to the Ulster fold this season on a short-term contract, has caught the eye in the pre-season friendlies and with Ruan Pienaar away with South Africa presently and Marshall on the long list of absentees, the young halfback would be the expected choice ahead of Blane McIlroy.
“I have been given the opportunity and I am just trying to take it with Ruan (Pienaar) and Marshy (Paul Marshall) away and hopefully I can keep stepping up and keep producing the goods for the guys and make the most of it,” said Heaney.
“You are always challenging yourself to step up your own game and to bring everyone around you along, its step up and it’s great to get out on a Friday night at Ravenhill.”
“Hopefully I’ll get the start against Glasgow I love every minute of playing in front of a great home crowd.”
“I’m happy enough with how things are going but I have to keep progressing like everybody else.”
Ulster finished the pre season with two wins and a draw but Heaney knows they will need to improve against Glasgow.
“We know we have work to do and our performance against Newcastle showed that, we have a lot of work to do at the breakdown, we were a bit sloppy at the breakdown and we weren’t as clinical as we expect of ourselves and we have a long way to go.”