Dan McFarland demands more despite crucial victory

Ulster will take a six point lead into their last 16 European Champions Cup clash second leg at Kingspan Stadium against holders Toulouse on Saturday night.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Sunday, 10th April 2022, 8:48 pm

Dan McFarland’s side won 26-20 their second win on French soil in this season tournament after beating Clermont in the pool stages.

And while the head coach admitted he’d have taken that advantage before kick-off in Toulouse going back to Belfast, he wasn’t happy with the Ulster performance especially as they played most of the game against 14 men after Toulouse winger Juan Cruz Mallia was shown a red card on 11 minutes for taking Ben Moxham out in the air.

“I think we could have been taken a larger points difference back,” stated McFarland.

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Dan McFarland the Head Coach of Ulster looks on during the players warm up ahead of the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 Leg One match, . (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“If you had offered it to me before the game winning in Toulouse by six points yeah of course I’m not sure anybody wouldn’t take it.

“We’re playing Toulouse in Toulouse and we created opportunities to score more tries, for chunks of that game we were really good.

“Our lineout which is normally extremely good didn’t function as well as it can do and they were excellent in lineout defence and that was a pretty critical part.

“The breakdown we didn’t lose them to jackals, but we were counter rucked on a number of occasions.

“I know they are enormous men but we can’t afford to do that at home.

“The fact is we have to be a lot better on Saturday night if we want to prevail over the two legs.”

McFarland has warned Ulster that the tie is far from over and that a six-point advantage against a side containing 10 of France’s grand slam winning squad could be wiped out in an instance.

“Toulouse are a team that have said they are far more interested in the European competition this year than they are in the home competition,” he said.

“They are the champions of Europe, they are the champions of the Top14 and they have a number of the best players in the world and we have come here and won a game 26-20 and we have to be proud of that.

“Six points to Toulouse is nothing it’s 15 seconds of offloading, genius, speed and size, 15 seconds that’s it gone so we are going to have to be on our game.

“For the time being we’ll sit down and accept we scored four tries, played some really lovely rugby and a lot of guys stood up who have never experienced that level before and take the confidence away from that.”

Toulouse struck first with lock Emmanuel Meafou going over from close range with Thomas Ramos converting on seven minutes.

Cruz Mallia saw red four minutes late for taking out Moxham, the Ulster winger didn’t return after his HIA assessment.

Ulster made their numerical advantage count immediately with winger Robert Baloucoune crossing for the first of his three tries which John Cooney converted.

Two Ramos penalties gave Toulouse a 13-7 half time lead.

Baloucoune got his second try five minutes after the restart, but Cooney missed the conversion.

Replacement prop Andy Warwick dived over on 60 minutes before Baloucoune completed his hat-trick, Cooney converted both.

However, Romain Ntamack’s converted try in the last minute means the tie is very much still in the balance.