Dan McFarland explains what Ulster ‘got wrong’ in defeat to Munster at Thomond Park

Ulster have already racked up a pair of impressive victories this season, but will come back from Limerick wondering how they failed to make it a memorable hat-trick last night.

Despite already raiding the twin forts of RDS and Stade Marcel Michelin, the Covid-19 situation that has plagued their squad over the past few weeks meant they headed to Thomond Park in more hope than expected. And yet, after being able to name a strong team on Friday afternoon and then take an early lead through a failed attempt from Rob Herring, things were going positive.

When Munster’s Simon Zebo was sent off after only a quarter of an hour for a high tackle on Mike Lowry, only one winner was to be expected.

From that point on, however, Ulster could only collect six more points from two penalties, while another attempt was reduced to a tee.

Against 14 men, the visitors did not consistently make the most of their advantage, while in contrast, Munster quickly scored one of his two attempts when replacement locksmith Kieran Treadwell was in the sin bin.

Call it game management, call it street-smarts or call it a bit of a noose, whatever this Ulster display lacked, it ensured that a red card that should have held the game firmly in its favor instead of a galvanized Munster .

While the second half had begging opportunities – with Maul such a weapon, lineout turnovers are all big, while crossing in a good position was another example – this was not a game where there was any merit to it. That was the result.

Munster took his first lead in the 77th minute via a try-scorer in Alex Kendelen, who was the 24th man, until Peter O’Mahony was injured in the build-up, while Tadhag Beerne, the game’s most influential player. The only reasons for being were instead of him.

But last week’s disappointing defeat to Connacht and his reaction to early adversity meant there was nothing lucky about the result.

For Ulster, the question will be how they failed to convert such an encouraging opening 15 minutes into four or five points.

The conditions were bad, but the bad arm wrestling that entered the sport certainly suited the men facing the wind and rained down a man’s light and, even if the decision to kick, was often down to its execution. Come as, there were times when Ulster seemed to have played into Munster’s hands.

Long before Kendelan tried, it had become clear that it would be a struggle even if the visitors were to win.

“It may be, but we are mature enough to be better at doing those things,” said head coach Dan McFarland Asked whether such game-management and in-game adjustments were the difference between the more experienced sides.

“It wasn’t that we needed to switch from Plan A to Plan B. Tactically we were right, strategically we were right. It was in the execution of the strategy that we did it wrong. Whether it was one or the other.” I think it’s an area of ​​the game that we’re developing, our ability to make those subtle decisions at the moment.

“The strategy that people were adopting in the second half was working for us. We just need to stick with it and make sure we’ve done it the right way.”

Further worrying will be injuries to John Cooney and James Hume, two men hated to lose for next week’s crucial trip to face Northampton in the Ulster Champions Cup.

With 14 men absent for this one, lengthening the injury list is all McFarland needed, but the head coach was using neither his absence nor the recent wave of Covid-19 that has hit this third. As excuses for the loss were torn through his squad. Campaign.

“A little smarter, potentially a little bit of energy due to not playing for two weeks,” he said of what was lacking. “You could argue that we’ve lost some acuity but I’m not convinced.”

Whatever the reason, a failure to win on the ground where he last tasted victory almost eight years ago will feel like a missed opportunity.

Munster: M Haley; S French, C Farrell, R Scannell, S Zebo; J Crowley, C KC; Kilcoyne D, Scannell N, Archer S; T. Ahern, F. Wicherley; T. Beerne, J. Hodnett, G. Combs.

Substitutions: Jay Wycherly (for Kilcoyne, 51), De Barron (for Ann Scannell, 51), Jay Ryan (for Archer, 45), S Daly (for French, 45), B Healy (for Crowley, 62), A. Kendelen (for Hodnett, 62), J. O. Donoghue (for Ahern, 64), Ann Cronin (for Casey, 72)

Ulster:M Lowry; C Gilroy, B Moxham, J Hume, E McIlroy; B. Burns, J. Cooney; J McGrath, R Herring, T O’Toole; O’Connor, S. Carter; G Jones, N Timoney, D Vermeulen.

Substitutions: Ann Dok (for Cooney, 23), A Warwick (for McGrath, 45), K Treadwell (for Carter, 45), Am Rea (for Jones, 62), A Curtis (for Jay Hume, 62) To), J Andrew (for Herring, 77), R Kane (for O’Toole, 77), R Little (for Gilroy, 77)

Referee: M Adamson (SRU) Shaktiman: T Beirne (MUN)