Ulster captain Rory Best could not hide his disappointment after his side’s 38-19 loss to Clermont at Stade Marcel Michelin on Sunday.
The Top 14 side raced into a 28-0 lead shortly after half-time thanks to a brace of tries from Nick Abendanon and further five-pointers by Isaiah Toeava and Camille Lopez.
But the Ulstermen fought back thanks to two tries from Tommy Bowe after Franco van der Merwe had also crossed the whitewash earlier in the half. A late penalty try sealed Clermont’s triumph, however, and Ulster had to head home to Belfast empty-handed.
The result means they are now eight points adrift of tabletoppers Clermont in Pool 5.
“The damage was done in the first half, we knew we had to come here and start well and keep the ball for long periods of time and frustrate them,” Best told RTE.
“We are massively disappointed to come away with nothing. We expected to win, we prepared well and we knew if we did the things we talked about all week, we had a good chance. But we didn’t do that at the start and it’s cost us a losing bonus point which we put ourselves in a great position to get. We conceded turnovers and weren’t good enough at the breakdown, we knocked on and gave silly penalties away and when you give a top side like this access into the game, they are going to score tries.
“We’ll have a look at this, we go back into the PRO12 next week but we will be looking to finish strong. It’s out of our hands a little bit but if we finish strong we will have a good chance of qualifying. But we’re disappointed with the first 45 minutes of that game.”