Ulster Rugby head coach Dan McFarland has hailed his defence as “magnificent” after the Irish province battled back from 13-0 down to defeat Leicester Tigers 14-13 and secure a Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final berth in the process. 

Ulster, who needed a win at Welford Road in Round 6 to be certain of a spot in the last eight, came roaring back through converted tries from prop Marty Moore and wing Robert Baloucoune – making just his second start in the Heineken Champions Cup – to seal a famous victory. 

McFarland – who was formerly an assistant coach at Glasgow Warriors, Connacht Rugby and Scotland – was quick to praise his side’s defensive grit after a disappointing first-half display. 

“I’m really pleased,” he commented. “The second-half performance showed everything about what we are.  

“In the first half we weren’t even close to what we’re capable of playing, but we turned that around to a large extent and some of our defence was magnificent.” 

Ulster will take on defending champions Leinster Rugby in the last eight at the Aviva Stadium on March 30 live on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS, having already beaten last year’s finalists, Racing 92, at the Kingspan Stadium earlier this season. 

“Play-off football is where you want to be. If you want to challenge for championships, you have to play play-off football regularly. We’ve come out of a hard pool with five wins,” McFarland added. 

“We’ll play one of the four best sides in Europe, but we’re in the top eight, so that’s great.”