Wednesday 7 December 2016

McCloskey shines as Ulster make dream start to campaign

Ulster 28 Ospreys 6

Published 04/09/2015 | 22:34

Stuart McCloskey evades the tackle of Joe Bearman at the Kingspan Stadium, Belfast.
Stuart McCloskey evades the tackle of Joe Bearman at the Kingspan Stadium, Belfast.

Ulster made an ideal start to their Guinness PRO12 campaign with a bonus-point win over a lacklustre Opsreys side at the Kingspan Stadium.

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Man of the match Stuart McCloskey scored 13 points from a try, a conversion and two penalties while the other home side scores in a 28-6 win came from skipper Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst and Luke Marshall with the latter's late run grabbing the maximum points for Neil Doak's side.

Ulster, who led 15-6 at half-time, were never greatly troubled by the Welsh side who were missing a dozen of their frontliners to World Cup duty while the Belfast side have eight away.

Ulster were out of the traps quickly with a well-taken fifth-minute score from skipper Herring. It came off some quick hands from the returning Nick Williams - playing his first game since suspension last March - which propelled Willie Faloon through a gap and from the recycle, Herring charged over.

McCloskey missed the relatively straightforward conversion but made amends shortly afterwards with a penalty.

The visitors came back into it with a Sam Davies penalty after 20 minutes which was won off an Ulster scrum.

Still, the home side responded with Andrew Trimble to the fore and his strong carry from a high kick saw the ball recycled and McCloskey crash over in the right corner for an impressive score. The centre then converted and Ulster were 15-3 to the good.

Davies closed it to 15-6 just six minutes before the break with his second penalty, but the same player missed a long-range penalty early in the second half, and Ulster again got on the scoreboard with McCloskey's strong run ending in a penalty which he slotted after 47 minutes.

Three minutes later and from an impressive lineout maul, Ulster eventually won a penalty which was again put in the corner to allow Herbst to wrestle his way over.

McCloskey missed the tricky conversion, but Ulster led 23-6, which became 28-6 in the dying minutes when Marshall scored in the left corner, with Peter Nelson missing the extras.

Press Association

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