Tuesday 6 December 2016

Jackson kicks off-colour Ulster to late victory

Ulster 9 Ospreys 7

Published 02/10/2016 | 02:30

Ulster's Paddy Jackson in action against Ospreys' Dan Biggar. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ulster's Paddy Jackson in action against Ospreys' Dan Biggar. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

An off-key Ulster got out of jail last night when a late Paddy Jackson penalty saw them crawl over the line at Kingspan Stadium.

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Ospreys shot ahead within six minutes when prop Nicky Smith, celebrating his 50th appearance, crashed over with Dan Biggar adding the extras.

The Welshmen, who were very physical at the breakdown, could have so easily crossed again shortly afterwards as their quick pick and go had Ulster back-peddling and only some scrambling defence got Ulster out of jail.

It was nearly halfway through the first period that Ulster finally entered the Ospreys red zone. Jackson had a chance to put Ulster on the board on the 25th minute but a wide-angled penalty drifted wide. Darren Cave then failed to hold on to a Louis Ludik pass that had a try written all over it.

Jackson settled some nerves when he rifled over a 45-metre effort in the 29th minute as Ulster began to turn the screw. But mistakes at crucial times saw them trailing 7-3 at the break.

Les Kiss obviously didn't mince his words at half-time and Ulster blasted out of the blocks. Jackson landed his second penalty from close in after spirited work by the pack.

Ulster's Tommy Bowe is tackled by Ospreys' Nicky Smith and Ben John. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ulster's Tommy Bowe is tackled by Ospreys' Nicky Smith and Ben John. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ospreys certainly didn't have the fire of the first half, but their defence was certainly comfortable. Indeed the Welshman almost scored on a break-out when Eli Walker was tackled by Jared Payne with the try in his sights.

However, it gave Ospreys position and while Biggar fluffed a straight-forward drop goal attempt, and Louis Ludik brought off a try-saving tackle on Tom Haberfield, the Welsh visitors played Ulster to a tee, before one last effort by Ulster saw them get a penalty and Jackson did the needful.

Scorers - Ulster: Jackson 3 pens. Ospreys: Smith try, Biggar con)

Ulster: C Piutau, C Gilroy (Bowe, 60), J Payne, D Cave, L Ludik, P Jackson, P Marshall (Pienaar, 56); K McCall (Black, 58), R Best (Andrew, 69), R Ah You (Kane, 60), A O'Connor (Treadwell, 66), F van der Merwe, capt, R Diack, S Reidy, R Wilson (Ross, 53).

Ulster's Tommy Bowe is tackled by Ospreys' Nicky Smith and Ben John. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ulster's Tommy Bowe is tackled by Ospreys' Nicky Smith and Ben John. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Ospreys: D Evans, J Hassler (Habberfield 39), B John, J Matavesi, E Walker, D Biggar, R Webb; N Smith (James, 66), S Parry (Baldwin, 56), D Arhip (Fia, 56, Arhip, 73) B Davies (Thornton, 59) A Wyn Jones (capt), J King (Adron, 51), J Tipuric, D Baker (Cracknell, 73).

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

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