Heineken Champions Cup: Ulster head coach Dan McFarland praises clinical second half

Luke Marshall scores
Luke Marshall's try put Ulster firmly in the ascendancy in the second half

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has praised his side for raising their game after half-time in a 34-10 win over Harlequins at The Stoop.

The visitors led 10-3 at the break before running in four tries in an impressive second half display.

"In the second half we turned around a bit of our carrying," McFarland told BT Sport.

"We managed to get a little bit of go-forward and certainly some quick ball."

Much like the first meeting between the teams a week earlier, the first half in London was dogged by handling errors and indiscipline on both sides which produced a frustrating 40 minutes spectacle.

A rare moment of quality saw Ulster run the length of the pitch for John Cooney to score the game's opening try in the final minute of the half.

Ulster fans
Ulster's vocal travelling support celebrated their side's first bonus point of this season's competition

"We really wanted to take them on physically in those areas around the ruck and we were bested in the first half and were under a lot of pressure," McFarland said.

"The try before half-time was massive boost to us coming off the field and I suspect would have sucked a bit of energy out of them."

Cooney continues scintillating form

The win moves Ulster closer to a Champions Cup quarter-final berth having won all four of their Pool Four encounters.

Scrum-half Cooney has undeniably been the standout performer of the campaign so far, providing pivotal scores in every European match so far.

On Friday against Harlequins, the 29-year-old strengthened his position as the in-form number nine in Ireland with two well-taken tries to cap another fine display.

"John is playing with confidence at the moment," McFarland said.

"Any professional sportsperson will tell you that a bit of confidence does the world of good."

Ulster's attentions now return to the Pro14, with three consecutive inter-provincial fixtures to come over the festive period.

They will seek to secure a return to the last eight of the Champions Cup in January when they face Clermont Auvergne away before concluding their Pool Three campaign at home to Bath.