Pro14: Ulster head coach Dan McFarland laments poor start against Connacht

Bundee Aki
Ireland centre Bundee Aki scored Connacht's second try

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland says that his side know they paid the price for a slow start in their 21-12 loss to Connacht in the Pro14 on Friday.

A number of sloppy errors from Ulster in the opening stages allowed the hosts to seize the initiative.

"We turned the ball over six times in the first 20 minutes and were 14-0 down," McFarland told Galway Bay FM.

"From then on we scored 12 points, they scored seven and we could have had more."

Ulster arrived at the Sportsground in good form having won all four of their December matches, including back-to-back victories over Scarlets in the Champions Cup.

Tries from Angus Kernohan and Jordi Murphy proved to be in vain as the visitors could not secure a losing bonus point.

Having defeated Munster in Belfast last week, Ulster travel to the home of runaway Conference B leaders Leinster next Saturday for their third straight inter-provincial fixture.

"That is two games in a row now where we have had slow starts, it nearly cost us last week and it did this week," warned hooker Rob Herring.

"We have got to go and find a way to be more consistent in the way we start games."

Response pleases McFarland

So far Ulster's season has been a mixed-bag in terms of both results and performances.

Their recent impressive run of form has inspired a wave of optimism around the Kingspan Stadium, something that was notable by its absence following consecutive inter-pro losses earlier in the season, including a 64-7 defeat by Munster.

"We were really proud of the way that we fought back into it (against Connacht)," said McFarland.

"That was a situation where we could easily have been knocked over.

"When we were down in Munster we got knocked over and could never get back to our feet but here we clearly got back to our feet.

The northern province remain second in Conference B with Leinster 16 points ahead. Connacht stay fourth in Conference A but move level on points with third-placed Ospreys.

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