Pat Lam feels referee made crucial decisions in Ulster’s favour

South African halfback Ruan Pienaar unlikely to be fit for Leinster game after knee setback

It's unlikely that Ruan Pienaar will return for Ulster against Leinster on January 3rd having re-damaged the knee he injured playing for South Africa last September.

The ligament damage has already denied Ulster their best player for four months of the season.

"He tried running on it this week, we thought he might have made it, but the fluid in the knee is too much," said Ulster coach Neil Doak after the 13-10 defeat of Connacht. "We'll have to see how he goes in the next few days.

“I don’t think it’s as serious (as the initial ligament damage) but when you have had an extended period of time out and get another bang to the same knee it can be a little bit daunting.


“It just wasn’t right for him.”

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Pat Lam felt referee John Lacey made some crucial decisions in Ulster's favour.

“Some pretty tough calls out there,” said Lam. “Ultimately, two weeks in a row, we have fought hard against Leinster and Ulster now and with five minutes on the clock we have had opportunities to win it...we certainly want more.”

Lam felt several late calls went against Connacht and that Jack Carty was "taken out" before Craig Gilroy's try. In fairness, four Connacht players missed tackles on Gilroy.

“Jack was bowled over by a runner and nothing was looked at. I feel we always get the toughest calls in the interpro games but I’ll go through the process.”

“But we hung in there. As history would show that’s not an easy place to go and get the win. We are certainly closing the gap on the other three.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent