European Rugby: Ulster will embrace challenge of facing Clermont insists head coach Dan McFarland

Head coach Dan McFarland and his players are looking forward to a big Friday night in Belfast when they welcome Clermont Auvergne to Kingspan Stadium.

Saturday, 16th November 2019, 7:36 pm
Ulster captain Iain Henderson addresses his side after the win over Bath

A hard-earned 17-16 victory over Bath at the Recreation Ground offers the chance to take charge of Pool Three of the Heineken Champions Cup.

"It's a huge challenge," said McFarland. "We all understand that. It will be a great occasion.

"Kingspan/Ravenhill is a great place to play in against French teams. Our evening against Racing 92 last year was a special occasion. The players relish that - the fans relish that."

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

One obvious concern ahead of the clash with Clermont is that Bath enjoyed two thirds of the possession.

"If we give Clermont that much ball they will torture us," said McFarland. "Bath stuck it to us and were really physical. We had to match them set-piece-wise and we did that. Defensively, we did a good job there, and we got two tries from turnover ball. That was really pleasing.

"Today was about team effort. Although we nearly beat ourselves at the end, we dogged it out. We had to work so hard in defence to stay in it. We had to have a better focus in the second half not to give away silly penalties."

Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper bemoaned the lack of accuracy that undermined his side's efforts, saying: "We let ourselves down."

But he refused to accept there had been any disruption caused by bringing back three of the England World Cup contingent: Sam Underhill, Jonathan Joseph and Ruaridh McConnochie.

"I wouldn't put any of it down to that," he added. "There were collective moments when we had to bring pressure to bear and we didn't do that with accuracy."