ULSTER RUGBY I XV: Brian McLaughlin admits there is plenty to work on but remains in a positive mood with some tough games on the horizon…

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McLaughlin was reasonably happy with his team’s performance in the first half: “We started well and scored a penalty and maybe could have scored a try in the early periods, but the Scarlets put us under a bit of pressure before half time. We thought we defended exceptionally well, we counter-rucked brilliantly twice during that period but unfortunately the ball spilled out and they scored under the posts. It was a real fluke of a try but it’s one of those things.”

He continued, “In the second half the Scarlets came at us again but we clawed our way back to 16-14 and we put ourselves in a position to possibly win the game. But a defensive error let them away. We’re disappointed not to win it but at least we got a bonus point in the end. Credit to the boys for fighting to the end. The conditions were very poor for both sides which didn’t help either.”

McLaughlin acknowledges there are a few things for his squad to work on if they are to end this losing streak against an in-form Connacht at Ravenhill next Saturday. “We’ll have to ensure we are in the best position possible to get a result against Connacht next weekend. They are playing exceptionally well; they haven’t had many players at the World Cup so they have continuity and are a settled side. Their league position highlights that. It’s not going to be easy but hopefully with another week behind us we can improve on our kicking game and our attack.”

Speaking on the return of six World Cup players, he said: “It was great to get the lads back in and give them some game time. Hopefully bringing Stephen (Ferris) and Rory (Best) into the equation next week should help even further.”

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