A dreadful second half performance from the Lions allowed Ulster to ease to a 26-10 win in their United Rugby Championship match at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Friday night.
It was a disappointing result for the South African side after a strong first half performance saw them trailing by just two points at 12-10, before a scoreless second half coupled with a raft of schoolboy errors led to the easy win in the end for the hosts.
The Lions were largely competitive throughout the match, but basic errors at crucial stages allowed Ulster to clear their lines whenever they found themselves under pressure.
“The frustration is the area where we are making the mistakes. We managed to build a lot of pressure and then when we get to 10 or 15m from the opponents goal line its a small error, so that’s the frustration there,” admitted Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.
“I think we were competitive for a long period of time which probably makes the frustration a little bit more, also saying that, I think there was some unbelievable work rate and physicality out there tonight.
“So now it is just to decrease the errors and get the consistency a bit better.”
In the match Ulster got off to a flying start with an early unconverted try to flank Nick Timoney who got a pop pass from Andrew Warwick at a 5m line out to go over in the right hand corner.
The Lions then hit back in the 17th minute as pressure on the Ulster line ended with wing Stean Pienaar going over in the corner, with a solid conversion from flyhalf EW Viljoen giving them the lead.
Ulster in charge in second half
With four minutes to go to the break Ulster then retook the lead as a three on one overlap allowed outside centre James Hume to dive over in the corner with scrumhalf Nathan Doak adding the conversion, only for the Lions to have the final say of the half with a penalty from Viljoen reducing the deficit.
The second half then belonged to Ulster as a quick tap penalty in the 48th minute led to a converted try to flank Matty Rea, while they made the game safe in the 66th minute as Timoney scored his second with Doak slotting the conversion.
The Lions however didn’t give up until the end but were let down by some dreadful handling with at least five knock-ons in the Ulster half and 22m in the final 10m of the match not allowing them to make a game of it in the dying moments.
Ulster: Tries: Nick Timoney (2), James Hume, Matty Rea; Conversions: Nathan Doak (3)
Lions: Try: Stean Pienaar; Conversion: EW Viljoen; Penalty: EW Viljoen