European Champions Cup: Ulster must refocus for Oyonnax match

Ulster suffered their first home defeat since May 2014 when they lost 9-7 to Munster at Kingspan Stadium
Ulster suffered their first home defeat since May 2014 when they lost 9-7 to Munster at Kingspan Stadium
European Champions Cup: Oyonnax v Ulster
Venue: Stade Charles-Mathon Date: Sunday 10 January Kick-off: 13:00 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster medium wave and the BBC Sport website

Ulster go into Sunday's crunch European Champions Cup Pool 1 game away to Oyonnax on the back of a disappointing 9-7 Pro12 defeat by Munster in Belfast.

The setback followed a run of four successive wins in all competitions during the month of December.

That sequence included back-to-back victories over Toulouse to put Les Kiss's side in the running for qualification for the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Ulster lie second in their pool, 10 points behind leaders Saracens.

The Irish province have their match against Oyonnax in hand over the Premiership leaders as the game was called off on its original scheduled date of 14 November following the deadly attacks in Paris.

Ulster will meet unbeaten Saracens at Allianz Park on 16 January as the race for a place in the last eight of the continent's premier club competition hots up.

Former Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan, ex-Irish international and Ulster back-rower Stephen Ferris and Tony McWhirter, part of the province's European Cup winning team in 1999, offered their thoughts on BBC Radio Ulster in the wake of the loss to Munster.

Eddie O'Sullivan

"Ulster have the ability to get out of their group but now it's about delivering the necessary performances over the next few weeks.

Had they played well and won well against Munster, there would be nothing to suggest that they would not replicate the displays they produced against Toulouse.

Now the seeds of doubt are sown again and that's a big worry.

Against Munster, Ulster lacked the sense of urgency and precision of recent weeks. Their set-piece wobbled at times, their scrums were catastrophic on occasions and their lineout let them down sometimes.

Ulster fell away in the second half and became more dishevelled and more disjointed. In the end, their game management left something to be desired and they suffered from some poor decision-making near the end."

Stephen Ferris

"Ulster have to get back to work on Monday and just pick themselves up and get on with it. They must draw a line under their second half performance and forget about it.

They made too many mistakes in the second half and allowed Munster back into the game when they should have played smart.

But they have a genuine opportunity to get out of their group and that should provide strong motivation in the coming weeks."

Tony McWhirter

"Perhaps the defeat by Munster will help to refocus the mind and refocus the concentration as far as Ulster are concerned.

They were maybe guilty of believing some of the things being written about them, but now they must pull a big performance out of the bag in France.

If they don't pick up four points, or preferably five, in France next week, it's going to be very difficult to qualify out of their group."

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