Throughout Leinster's dominance of the previous incarnations of the United Rugby Championship, any and every available cliche has been used to describe how tough it is to face them.

But there are few in Irish rugby that can lay it out as straight as Ulster head coach Dan McFarland.

Five week ago he was candid and blunt when assessing his team in the wake of their Interpro defeat to Connacht. On Saturday night he cut an entirely different picture, contently sipping a can of beer as he broke down Ulster's excellent 20-10 win against Leinster in a way that only he can.

"It's funny, isn't it?" he asked, before pausing for a few seconds.

"It's still a game of rugby, there's still five points (on offer) but there's a ferocity to it, an intensity to a lot of the work that means if you're off even marginally you can be sat on your a**e, tumbling around in the surf with sand in your jocks and not even having played that badly."

It's easy to see what he was talking about. Having been by far the better team, his side found themselves level at 10-10 through 65 minutes. The blue wave of Leinster was hitting them, and history told us they would be tumbling in the surf soon enough.

But they stayed on the board, and rode the wave home, Nathan Doak's penalty nudging them back in front, before an intercept try from James Hume sealed the win, their first at the RDS since 2013.

McFarland, who has been in charge of the team since 2018, says it's the biggest win he's had in his three and a half seasons in Belfast, but his players aren't bothered by the history.

"It's a big result.

"On its own it's four points like any other four points but it's the ultimate test in our league to come here and the guys did a good job.

"I've only been here since 2018 so 2013 to 2018, we're focused on what we're doing. There's no negative to that but I'm just happy that we won. We won and that's that done.

"Even the players, they're enjoying the moment, they're living in the moment. That's what it's about. I get that, definitely, that they (the supporters) may feel the history but I can't afford to do that.

"This is the sharp end, you have to focus on the here and now."

His reluctance to get carried away is due to the next nine waves that are coming their way. This middle block of the season is vicious, with Leinster coming to Belfast seeking revenge in the new year, while they also face Munster and Connacht in between two European double-headers against Clermont Auvergne and Northampton Saints.

Another challenge merits another metaphor.

"I'm going to include this in the meaty part of the season," the Englishman said.

"Ten games, seven teams, four derbies, four European games, Ospreys away and big Dwayne Peel coming back for the 10th game.

"I said it earlier in the week, if rounds one to five were the starter then this is definitely the main course that's going to decide the dessert.

"It's a phenomenally tough schedule and we're going to be tested in the depth of our squad. The challenge is one that we talked about on Monday and it's exciting, really exciting. It's an opportunity for us to make some news, for us to drive as individuals to get recognition and international honours.

"Everything is there for us."