Ulster coach Dan McFarland will have a lot to say to officials after Leinster defeat

The Ulster team after the game (Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie)

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Ulster coach Dan McFarland admits he will have a lot to say to referee officials after their controversial loss to Leinster.

He refused to publicly criticise his former Connacht colleague Frank Murphy after the referee dished out six cards in Saturday’s vital PRO14 clash.

A red flashed at replacement prop Andrew Warwick for a high tackle on Ed Byrne was the decisive moment of the Leinster win.

Ulster also had Stuart McCloskey and replacement Cormac Izuchukwu binned, while yellow cards were dished out to Leinster’s Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock and Jimmy O’Brien.

O’Brien was fortunate to only receive yellow for a head charge on Ian Madigan while the controversial cancellation of a second try from flying winger Robert Baloucoune was also a key moment.

Referee Murphy played for Connacht for six seasons as a scrum-half from 2008-14 during which time McFarland, a former prop at The Sportsground, was assistant coach there.

“I’m certainly going to be talking about them but that will be done in private,” said McFarland. “I have a lot to say. The stuff around some of the key decision-making in the game is something I’m going to have to discuss with the referees’ manager. Ultimately the game turned on the red card didn’t it?”

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland
(Image: ©INPHO/Craig Watson)

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The loss ends their PRO14 hopes for this season and their hopes of first silverware since 2006 will now switch to the European Challenge Cup.

And while McFarland acknowledges the difficulties created by Covid-19, he feels there should still be play-offs in the PRO14 this season.

He added: “It just seems like a real damp squib that there’s only going to be one game to finish the season. We’ve earned the right to be playing a play-off game.”

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Meanwhile, Leo Cullen has demanded Leinster do not take their foot off the pedal in their two remaining PRO14 games despite having reached their 10th final in 12 years.

They have dead rubbers against Zebre and Ospreys in the build-up to their March 27 final showdown with arch rivals Munster.

And Cullen, with 15 players on Irish duty, wants his extended squad to use those games to make a mark. He said: “Competition is good in the squad and we want to keep that going. We need to kick on and maintain the momentum.”

Ulster scorers: Tries – M Coetzee, R Baloucoune, N Timoney; Cons – J Cooney, M Lowry.

Leinster: Tries – M Bent, J van der Flier, E Byrne, R Ruddock, D Sheehan; Cons – R Byrne 5; Pen – R Byrne.

Posted on Categories Sport