Still more to come from Ulster says Dan McFarland

Ulster's Robert Baloucoune scores a try. Credit �INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Ulster's Robert Baloucoune scores a try. Credit �INPHO/Morgan Treacy
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Ulster had the game and the bonus point wrapped up after 27 minutes against the Scarlets in Friday night’s Pro14 clash with the Scarlets.

The win closes the gap to eight points on Conference A leaders to eight points.

Coach Dan McFarland was delighted with Ulster’s first half hour but concerned that his team only managed one more score in the game which came in the last minute.

“I think we were (clinical) and physically we were pretty dominant in that first 20 minutes,” he said after the game.

“Maybe that knocked them off kilter a little bit but credit to them they came back in the second half,

“The second half became a lot stickier but I thought we were excellent in that first 30 minutes.

“We played against the Kings and after 35 minutes the game was over but the rest of it was just a turgid mess.

“Zebre was the same, up early but then it got a little bit messy.

“Ultimately we’ve got five points out of it and there’s not much more that you can do but, for me, when I’m watching it I like to look at the performance in the moment so if it’s slips off in 50 minutes, 60 minutes, or even the last minute of the game, I find that very frustrating and that’s something we can improve.

“I’m going to go right back to the beginning, that was a game that when the fixtures were announced I thought that would be a difficult ask for us sandwiched between two Champions Cup games with them playing two Challenge Cup games.

“They’re going to be highly motivated where naturally the spotlight isn’t going to be on it as much as for us so we needed to be on our mettle and to be fair we were.

“We lost the momentum in the game, we had two opportunities in the centre of the field scrums to put boot to ball and exploit space in the back-field and we messed both of them up.

“The game at that point was dying and that was our opportunity there to get a bit of momentum and we didn’t take it at that point.

“We had a bonus point already and it didn’t look like we were going to lose that game.”

The coach was satisfied with Ulster defensive performance limiting the Scarlets to five points.

“I thought it was good we didn’t really have to defend for that first 30 minutes and Jared is sitting next to me and saying ‘I could have stayed at home’,”said McFarland.

“I was quite interested to see us defend and I was glad I got a chance to see us defend.

“I was really disappointed we gave up the try but apart from that it was good, our defence has been tracking nicely.

“There is still room for improvement there and I think we can push on in defensive terms.”

The victory over the Scarlets was Ulster’s third in succession but McFarland isn’t resting on his laurels with the huge back-to-back European games against Harlequins coming up.

“We don’t want to be patting ourselves on the back,” he said.

“We’ll enjoy the fact we won but also we’ll focus on the fact that there was some good stuff in there which we’ll look at and if we can pull some best practice out of that, that’s great.

“Harlequins will offer big propositions for us in terms of breaking down their defence which is excellent and they have one of the best defensive coaches around in Paul Gustard, breaking them down is going to be really difficult.”