Benetton 31-29 Ulster: Last-gasp URC defeat in Italy ‘heartbreaking’ – McFarland

Benetton 31-29 Ulster: Last-gasp URC defeat in Italy 'heartbreaking' - McFarland

Ulster’s last-gasp 31-29 defeat by Benetton was “heartbreaking”, says head coach Dan McFarland.

Rhyno Smith’s late penalty snatched a win for the Italian hosts in the United Rugby Championship encounter.

The defeat is a fifth in six games for Ulster, who face Champions Cup holders La Rochelle away next Saturday.

“We stuck in there, perhaps not playing as well as we can. Just at the moment it’s not quite ticking for us as a team,” said McFarland.

Eric O’Sullivan’s early try put Ulster ahead but the home side hit back through scores from Tomas Albornoz and Onisi Ratave to lead 17-10 at the break.

Rob Herring’s try cut Benetton’s lead to five but Juan Ignacio Brex’s score helped move the home side 28-15 up.

Ulster seemed to have snatched victory after a Michael Lowry score and penalty try before Smyth’s last-gasp penalty.

It was the first time an Italian side had beaten an Irish province since 2017.

“Quite a few errors in that first half which was similar to last week,” reflected McFarland after the game at Stadio di Monigo.

“Really proud of the way when things went against us in the second half we came back into it to take the lead with three minutes to go.

“It’s a situation when things aren’t going great for you that we could easily have just sat on our hands and felt sorry for ourselves but we’re not like that – I was proud of the fellas for that.

“We’ve got to be more productive with the ball. The key thing is when we’re given chances in the opposition’s third is to take those chances.

“We have threatening plays and we have threatening players. We have to be able to execute those.”

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