Monday 15 October 2018

Les Kiss hails comeback while van Graan accepts Arnold's game-turning red card


Ulster’s Robert Lyttle soars over the line to round off his team’s win over Munster. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Ulster’s Robert Lyttle soars over the line to round off his team’s win over Munster. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

David Kelly and Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Munster coach Johann van Graan had no complaints with the sending-off of Sam Arnold as Munster collapsed to a 24-17 defeat in Belfast to Ulster despite leading 17-0 at the break.

"We're very disappointed after the start we had," said Van Graan, as his side suffered their second successive interprovincial defeat of the festive season.

"We have to keep 15 men on the field and then we went down to 13 with another man in the bin and then the momentum went their way.

"The referee is in a difficult spot, Sammy went for the tackle, hit his head and the referee had no option. There was no intent."

Ulster coach Les Kiss also agreed the sending-off was deserved.

"You don't like to see anyone going off, but the referee had no option," said Kiss.

Munster also departed with a slew of injuries to Billy Holland (failed HIA), James Cronin (calf), Niall Scannell (shoulder/rib), Tommy O'Donnell (shoulder) and Calvin Nash (hip) as they prepare to host Connacht this Saturday.

Kiss argued that his side, who had been trounced in Galway last time out and were heading the same way after 40 minutes at home against Munster, had remained calm at half-time despite being thoroughly out-played.

"The two changes at prop helped at half-time, the message was we had to look after the ball. We got a few more favourable calls but we had been our own worst enemy.

"We haven't swept what happened in Connacht under the carpet. We all hurt and we were all part of the problem and part of the solution. I was pleased with the boys remaining calm."

Meanwhile, Leinster coach Leo Cullen was hopeful the back injury that forced Dan Leavy off at half-time of his team's narrow win over Connacht at the RDS will not prove too serious.

The Ireland international limped off after unsuccessfully trying to stop Finlay Bealham scoring his first-half try in the 21-18 win.

Luke McGrath and Rory O'Loughlin are doubts for this week's visit of Ulster as they are likely to go through the head-injury protocols, while Cian Kelleher is a doubt for Connacht's visit to Thomond Park after suffering a similar issue.

Connacht coach Kieran Keane rued one that got away after his team finished the game with possession in the Leinster 22 but couldn't get over the line.

"Certainly, yeah. It certainly felt like that," he said. "We're all pretty disappointed we didn't get the result, but it was a very brave performance. A lot of character within the team shown tonight again so we could construe it as one that got away, yeah."

Irish Independent

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