Ulster Rugby: 36-18 win a 'massive step backwards' says defence coach Jared Payne

Michael Lowry
Michael Lowry scored his first Ulster try in his third start at full-back

Ulster defence coach Jared Payne believed his side took a "massive step backwards" despite recording their first bonus-point win of the season against Dragons on Friday.

The hosts scored five tries but struggled for fluency at times while their set-piece continued to falter.

"We need to stay in the games longer both in attack and defence.

"We talked about it all week but just did not deliver anything we talked about," reflected Payne.

After last week's heavy European loss to Racing 92, Ulster got back to winning ways with a new-look backline.

Debutant Robert Baloucoune joined Michael Lowry and Henry Speight in the back three while Johnny McPhillips made his first start of the season at fly-half.

"The backline have played together before and they just were not good enough," said Payne.

"I think they will be pretty disappointed with themselves."

"Nowhere near finished"

Despite sitting third in Conference B, only bottom side Southern Kings have conceded more points than Ulster so far this campaign.

On Friday their lineout and scrum continued to invite criticism as the Irish province gave up good field position and conceded several penalties from their own set-piece.

"This is a work in progress, it is a new system to the lads and we have made a number of steps forward in certain parts of the defence but it is nowhere near finished," said head coach Dan McFarland.

"Jared has done a really good job with our defence.

"If a coach is putting a system in place you will see a couple of steps forward in certain areas and then it drops back a little bit, you are going to be disappointed."

Ulster will travel to Treviso next week without the eight players called into Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad, before an away trip to last year's beaten finalists Scarlets on 23 November.

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