Coach Mark Anscombe was brutality honest in his assessment of Ulster’s disappointing defeat at the RDS against Leinster.
Ulster slipped to fifth in the table after the 19-6 reversal in Dublin and the Kiwi described the performance as one of the worst during his year and a half tenure.
“You can come here and go away disappointed but it is how disappointed you are within yourselves,” he said.
“You come here and expect to lose at times but they are a quality team, you can handle defeats but it is the way that you get beat can sometimes by disappointing.
“I thought we were pretty poor out there, it’s the festive season and the derby games are meant to be pretty important to the players.
“You wouldn’t have thought that it was too important to our players.
“You can make reasons and excuses, everyone was at home enjoying Christmas and we were still at home enjoying it by the way we performed.
“I thought we were just lethargic, we lacked any energy and we lacked any purpose.
“I don’t think we had the ball at all in that first half. That happens in a game but it’s for five, 10 or maximum 15 minutes, if you have some attitude about you and you want to compete and be there you will get some ball you just don’t go 40 minutes without the ball and be content with that but we were.”
He added: “Any coach would hope when you get a performance like that it won’t repeat itself and you have to get back on the horse.
“In my time here a year and a half there has been that and maybe one other and sometimes that will happen in 46 games.
“ I’m sure Matt (O’Connor) was disappointed in Edinburgh but that wasn’t the same team out on the park so it shows you can turn things around if they accept the responsibility that the work needs done and you go about doing that.”
“I take my hat off to Leinster they came with the intent and purpose of wanting to play and we didn’t match that and we were bloody disappointing.”
“It was about us and we were poor and we have to look at why that was.
“Why don’t have a lot of time to turn it around but we have to back ourselves to do that and we know if we get our team on the park we can play good footie and we’re a good team.
“We have to take it on the chin, we got beaten up by the better team and why have to find out why pretty quickly and get excited about playing the leaders of the competition at home on Friday night.”
Anscombe was disappointed that Ulster couldn’t get a losing point despite being camped in Leinster’s 22 during the closing stages.
“We should have got it there was a try begging down that left hand side, that happens sometimes in a game of rugby you get one chance and you have to take it and that is what good footballers do they take them and we didn’t.
Ulster are now 10 points behind Munster and Anscombe admits his side must take the points on Friday night and he is backing his players to bounce back.
“It’s a must win game and we can’t afford to lose it,” stressed Anscombe.
“I’ve had some great results here with the personnel we have in this team and there will be some good men out there that will be hurting.
“You want them to hurt because they let themselves down.”
we have to get back up and show what we are about on Friday.”
“Hopefully there will be a few guys that have been out for a period of time fit for selection and that always helps and keeps guys on their toes.
“A few guys were given the opportunity and you want them to get excited and they should be excited about playing Leinster at the RDS and take the opportunity but some guys didn’t stand up and take it.”