Ulster's Rainbow Cup hopes are over admits Stuart McCloskey

Stuart McCloskey has written off Ulster’s Rainbow Cup hopes after a 38-10 defeat against Munster at Thomond Park on Friday night.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 5:00 pm

Dan McFarland’s side conceded six tries in Limerick and slumped to a second consecutive reversal in the competition.

Ulster are second bottom in the table with both Italian sides above them, only the top two sides from the 12 teams qualify for the final.

“Up until last week we were having a pretty good season, we had done well,” stated McCloskey.

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Ulster's Stuart McCloskey

“You can maybe write that Connacht game off with looking onto the next week but there’s no real excuse, losing by 28 points when you’d say the two sides were fairly well matched on paper.

“We can’t do anything about it now, so it’ll be good to try a few combinations and play a bit of nice rugby to finish the year off.

“Any time I’ve been involved we’ve been fighting for a semi-final, or even to get into a play-off for the Champions Cup.

“This is a bit different, it’s not the best scenario to finish a season, losing at home to Connacht put us behind the eight ball and after that, Munster wasn’t good enough.

“It’s a strange way to finish, hopefully we can play some good rugby to finish and if results come, results come.

“We came down here to get a result and play a bit of good rugby and I don’t think we achieved either tonight.

“The red card didn’t help but we gave them opportunities to get into the game and they took them.

“They pushed away and we ended up trying to run from everywhere in the second-half and that’ll work against you down here.”

Ulster were 40 minutes away from reaching the European Challenge Cup final before Leicester’s second half fight back last week but McCloskey refused to blame a Welford Road hangover for the performance against Munster.

“Through the week it was probably difficult but when you're on the pitch and you know it's an inter-pro, you're up for it,” he said.

“You know it's going to be a physical confrontation, you have to be at it or you're going to be embarrassed.

“I don't know if we were embarrassed but it was close enough, it was tough getting back up but we have to improve and be better than we were.

“Rugby at this level, especially between the Irish teams, there's not a great deal in it, a lot of times it'll be home or away that decides the result.

“Definitely if you're not on it and you go away from home against any Irish side it's going to be a struggle.

“If you look back on Munster, maybe we just weren't 100% there, maybe it was 95% there and that's just not good enough.”

After three consecutive defeats in all competition the RDS would be the last place any team would want to go to face Pro14 champions Leinster.

“I don’t know how we’ll approach it. It probably is a good chance to go and play a bit of rugby and see what happens,” McCloskey said.

“We can’t really do anything in this competition now because it’s only the top two into the final.

“Whatever way we approach it, we have to get back at it and see how we’re going to go at it.”

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