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Ulster boss Dan McFarland relishing shot at old foes

By Ian Cameron
Ulster No.8 Duane Vermeulen - PA

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland was thrilled as his side ended their losing run to book a place in the Champions Cup last-16 by beating Sale at Kingspan Stadium.


Having lost their last three matches, as well as six of seven, in all competitions, this first victory of their European campaign was enough to scrape through from Pool B after tries from Rob Lyttle, Rob Herring and Duane Vermeulen helped them to a 22-11 victory.

Barring a huge loss by Montpellier at home to London Irish today, they will go through as eighth seeds and meet Irish rivals Leinster in the knock-out stages.

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“That’s the goal, you want to play in the play-off games and we’ve done it again,” McFarland said after advancing from the pools for a fourth time in his five seasons in charge. “I think our reward is a trip to Leinster.

“I quite fancy Leinster, challenge yourself against the best.

“We came out, we wanted to put on a performance at home, in front of our fans, in our house, and I thought the crowd was electric tonight, the atmosphere was brilliant.

“I think a chunk of that was to do with how we played. I thought we were excellent on both sides of the ball. It wasn’t perfect obviously but Sale are a really good team, they don’t let many tries in.

“I thought across the board we had some fantastic performances.”

Sale coach Alex Sanderson had no complaints with the result, praising Ulster for seizing control in the second half.


“It’s not that tough to stomach actually,” he said. “Given the momentum shift in the second half I think Ulster thoroughly deserved it.

“They had us in the set-piece and they won most of the collisions and when you have those two things as feathers in your cap and you’re in the opposition half for 30-35 minutes, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion.

“I’ve accepted that for what it is. Brilliant by them and we need to improve on certain aspects of our game that are our bread and butter.”

Second in the Premiership, Sale will quickly turn their attention back to domestic matters.


“We’re going well there,” Sanderson added. “That’s always the way, it’s the hamster wheel and you’ve got to get back on it.

“We’ll get back into the Prem next week with Bath at home.

“The Challenge Cup is still something we’ll focus on because of the exposure it brings young lads, and there were a lot of young lads out there tonight.

“They’ll be all the better for that, coming here and understanding what it’s about at this level.”


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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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