Ulster given reality check
Ulster's young guns got a nasty reality check at the Liberty Stadium yesterday as Ospreys powered their way to a fourth straight win in the PRO12, writes JOHN FALLON.
In the process, Ulster's winning start to the season was brought to an abrupt halt in a game where they started and finished with tries but in between were outplayed -- they were on the wrong end of a 22-7 penalty count, with several offences coming at the scrum.
"That's more than we conceded all season, so we'll have to take a close look at that and rectify it," lamented coach Brian McLaughlin.
It meant that their dream start -- when Paddy Jackson cut through the Ospreys' blitz defence for a try after just two minutes -- counted for little.
Ospreys got on top and while Ulster put in the tackles and kept their line intact, Dan Biggar kicked four penalties to help the hosts to 12-7 half-time lead, despite losing Richard Hibbard to a yellow card after 19 minutes.
Visiting back-row Robbie Diack was binned on 48 minutes and in his absence, Biggar landed another penalty and converted a penalty try awarded after a series of scrum offences.
A comedy of errors in the Ulster rearguard presented Richard Fussell with a second Ospreys try eight minutes from the end.
Ulster rallied to earn a late penalty try following a line-out drive.
Ospreys -- B Davies ; R Fussell, T Isaacs, A Bishop, H Dirksen; D Biggar (M Morgan 68), R Webb; D Jones (C Griffiths 74), R Hibbard (M Davies 65), A Jarvis (J Rees 52-74); I Gough, J Goode (J King 40); T Smith, J Tipuric, J Thomas.
Ulster -- J Payne (A D'Arcy 52); C Gilroy, N Spence, L Marshall, I Whitten; P Jackson (J McKinney 75), P Marshall (B McIlroy 68); D Fitzpatrick (P McAllister 52), A Kyriacou (N Brady 57), J Cronin (A Macklin 65); L Stevenson, D Tuohy; P Wannenburg (T Barker 65), C Henry, R Diack (W Faloon 58).
Ref -- D Phillips (IRFU).