Ulster coach McLaughlin points to inexperience

A dejected Adam Macklin at the final whistle in Newport
A dejected Adam Macklin at the final whistle in Newport

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin believes his young players will learn a lesson from the 22-9 defeat by the Dragons.

"We came with a young side and what they've learned is that they need to be accurate and not gift the opposition field position," said McLaughlin.

"We're missing 14 key players but this has been a very valuable experience for our younger players.

"The main issue was that we couldn't put any sustained pressure on them and they got into good positions."

It was Ulster's second Pro12 loss in Wales a week after the 32-14 defeat to the Ospreys on Sunday.

"The four day turnaround was very possibly a factor but it's not an excuse," added McLaughlin.

"It works both ways. While there's no doubt that we did look a little lethargic at times, we had the opportunity to bounce back quickly from a defeat.

"It takes nothing away from the fact that the Dragons were the better side tonight and deserved their victory.

"There were some positives - I was pleased with our lineout, I think there were just two crooked throws all night, and the scrum was rock solid in the first half and despite the changes in the second half remained so."