United Rugby Championship: Ulster head coach Dan McFarland delighted after ‘important psychological step’

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland says that they overcame a significant hurdle in their United Rugby Championship quarter-final victory over Munster.

The Kingspan Stadium-based outfit have struggled in recent play-off matches, including going down to Toulouse in this year’s last-16 Champions Cup tie.

They went into Friday’s encounter as slight favourites but put in a superb performance to emphatically defeat the visitors 36-17.

Taking confidence into the semi-finals

“Does it feel like an important psychological step? In the context of the season, definitely. It certainly is for me. We played two games against Munster and we didn’t play very well in either. Then on Friday, we executed. We put a lot of pressure on them,” McFarland told reporters.

“They ended up making a lot of mistakes which is probably because of the fact they were chasing the game.

“We will take confidence into the semi-final. It is the hot end of the season. We are going to be travelling next week so we know how difficult it is to travel and win games. We will have to be on the money next week.”

Despite losing more league matches than last season, McFarland believes that Ulster have improved over the past year and can handle the pressure of a semi-final.

“We have more strings to our bow now than we had 12 months ago, but a lot of it will come down to how we are playing at that time. If you had asked me five weeks ago, before the Edinburgh game, I would have been a little bit concerned because at that time we were not playing our best rugby,” he said.

“After the Six Nations we didn’t play brilliantly, particularly in attack, but in the last couple of games, we have started to show a bit more of what we are about, and that probably comes from a little bit of a change in mindset in how we approach it.

“So, at this stage of the season, you are going to have to be efficient in attack and defence to win games and it does not matter whether it is Stormers or Edinburgh, you are going to have to be able to score points to win those games.”

Ulster’s URC victory over Munster was particularly satisfying for the fans, players and coaches after they lost both of their regular season matches against their fellow Irish side.

“We’ve found them difficult to beat; most teams find them very difficult to beat,” McFarland added.

“Some of our set-piece plays, the two we got tries off, were well coached during the week and perfectly executed.

“Munster are a team that, unless you break them early, it becomes very difficult to break them down. We needed that.

“I thought that was quality.”

READ MORE: Munster ‘not good enough’ as Johann van Graan’s tenure ends with a whimper

The article United Rugby Championship: Ulster head coach Dan McFarland delighted after ‘important psychological step’ appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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