Skipper Iain Henderson admits frustration as Ulster allow chance to slip

It was another case of so near yet so far for Ulster after a big knockout defeat on Friday night.

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 6:00 am

Dan McFarland’s side exited the European Challenge Cup at the semi-final stage after a 33-24 loss at Welford Road against Leicester.

Ulster were 40 minutes away from the Twickenham final after a dominant first-half performance saw them go into the interval with a 17-6 advantage.

But as is so many big knockout games over the last decade, Ulster couldn’t get over the line and shipped 27 points to a rejuvenated Tigers after the break.

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James Hume and his Ulster team-mates appear dejected after the Challenge Cup semi-final match on Friday.

Ulster have failed to win silver for five years and skipper Iain Henderson isn’t ruling out a psychological barrier for the failure.

“Very potentially, very potentially, it is something we talk about at training, it is something we talk about in terms of our game plan, it is something that has been brought up before, it is not something we have not considered,” said Henderson.

“But until we find something that we do to fully rectify that, I suppose the answer is still going to be as unknown to you as it is to me.

“We are not going to let off the accelerator now, we are going to keep on going until we find the stone we have not turned over yet and find the missing ingredient that we need.

“I think when you see other teams performing at different games - I thought Leicester were a different team in the first half as to the second as we were too - but it is the best teams that have that consistency there irrespective of what goes wrong or what player it is on the pitch, the other 14 players are still able to do their job perfectly and keep it going along,” he added.

“That is something where we have fallen down on before, and we fell down against Leicester.

“When one thing goes wrong, being unable to back that up with another positive action... and when you let a team like Leicester get front foot ball and get into your 22 and get into their kicking game that is when you are in trouble and we were in trouble tonight in the second half.”

Henderson admitted a sense of frustration following the result after all the hard work behind the scenes.

“It is frustrating and the most frustrating thing is that we can see the hard work that goes in from the guys, the coaches, the support staff,” he said.

“Everyone is going at it hell for leather trying to make sure that everyone is 100 per cent prepared for match day. That is ultimately the most frustrating thing for me.

“It is not going to change or stop us going after things, we will go after every single thing we can to make sure we can finally overcome this hurdle.”

Henderson feels Ulster should have been good enough to kick on in the second half and win at Welford Road.

“Up to this point I think it has been progress, this tonight was not progress - we feel we have let ourselves down. What we did out on the pitch was not how we wanted to portray ourselves or how we want to play.

“We left a lot out there and we feel we should have been coming away with a victory, albeit Leicester did very well and they are a tough side to beat at home as we have seen by them producing performances here over the last while. We are very disappointed.”

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