Pro14 semi-final: Ulster couldn't match Glasgow's intensity - Bryn Cunningham

Cunningham felt Glasgow seized momentum in the early stages
Cunningham felt Glasgow seized momentum in the early stages

Ulster Rugby operations director Bryn Cunningham said Ulster's poor start was a key factor in their Pro14 semi-final defeat by Glasgow Warriors.

Dan McFarland's men were outclassed as they conceded seven tries in a 50-20 loss in Scotstoun.

The hosts scored with their first attack of the match, while Marcell Coetzee, Rob Herring and Michael Lowry crossed the line for the visitors.

"The opening five minutes of games like that are critical," said Cunningham.

"They're a side that play with momentum and we didn't control the first kick-off. They made a line break within a minute or two and that set the tone for the game.

"They played with a ferocious amount of intensity and tempo that we struggled to match at times, and the boys are obviously hugely gutted.

"There were moments of the game when we were inaccurate, we let them in and they held on to pretty much every pass."

Best and Cave bowed out in Scotstoun
Best and Cave bowed out in Scotstoun

Despite the disappointment of the loss, Cunningham said the Ulster squad can be proud of their efforts and of the progress they have made from the low of last season.

"The scoreline suggests that we didn't turn up but that's not the case," Cunningham continued.

"Dan [McFarland] said in the changing room that we shouldn't dwell on the defeat. We should be hugely proud of what we have achieved this campaign.

"We haven't won silverware but, based on where we were at the end of last season, we are in a pretty good place and can build on that going forward."

Friday's semi-final marked the end of skipper Rory Best's 15-year Ulster career, with the hooker ending his club career and planning to retire fully after the World Cup.

The match was also Darren Cave's final one for the province, with the centre equalling Andrew Trimble's appearance record of 229.

"We said goodbye to two stalwarts of the game and they were emotional scenes," added Cunningham, who played for Ulster 150 times.

"It was a phenomenal achievement by Darren and he has been absolutely outstanding for Ulster.

"And what can you say about Rory Best? I said before that I don't think any other player in the professional game has made as much of an impact on Ulster Rugby as Rory."

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