Ulster muscle their way past Leinster
Leinster 7 Ulster 10
Ulster have spent a small fortune on their gym in the redeveloped Ravenhill. From what we saw here in Tallaght yesterday evening they’re getting good value from it.
They spent most of the second half on the back foot, into a stiff breeze, but in the first 40 minutes — before the heavy human traffic started off the bench — they gave muscular, disciplined performance which will have pleased their interim coach Les Kiss.
With 27 replacements used, between the two sides, we had almost two different games, but when the contest was at its most stable Ulster looked handy enough.
Their latest batch of South Africans all did well — full back Louis Ludik, tighthead Wiehann Herbst and second-row Franco van der Merwe — but the sight of Stuart Olding going off was something Kiss, and the watching Joe Schmidt, could have done without. Kiss said afterwards there wasn’t much to worry about. For Leinster the story with flanker Dan Leavy looked a good deal more serious. He is an outstanding prospect who already has travelled a hard road on the injury front, and needed two helpers to cart him off yesterday.
Otherwise for the home team there was limited good news. Fergus McFadden was sharp and Cian Healy hungry for work alongside Bryan Byrne, who carried very well and got his side’s only try. Off the bench, fullback Cian Kelleher also did well but that was about it.
Ulster were by far the better side in the first half, scoring inside three minutes through Jared Payne, who looked as composed as ever. They were 10 points clear after a second fine strike by Ian Humphreys when they produced the best move of the match, which ironically yielded nothing.
It started it at a short lineout in their own 22, taken on powerfully by captain Roger Wilson. Having shifted it wide they then worked a lovely switch with Payne, and from the next phase Humphreys dinked a perfect cross field kick for Michael Allen, who spilled in trying to gather it.
A pity that, but it was confirmation if it was needed of the direction of the traffic. Leinster defended much more aggressively after the break and Ian Madigan looked typically dangerous when carrying close in. The nearest they came to a second try was another clean break from McFadden. It died well short of the Ulster line.
Scorers — Leinster: B Byrne try; I Madigan con; Ulster: J Payne try; I Humphreys con, pen.
Leinster: Z Kirchner; F McFadden, B Macken, S Crosbie, D Fanning; J Gopperth, L McGrath; C Healy, B Byrne, M Ross K McLaughlin, M McCarthy, J Conan, S O’Brien (capt), S Jennings. Reps: S Coghlan-Murray, I Madigan, I Boss, T Denton, M McGrath, C Kelleher, M Bent all ht; B Marshall, D Leavy, T Furlong, T Daly, T Moran, J van der Flier, G Thornbury.
Ulster: L Ludik; M Allen, J Payne, S Olding, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, P Marshall; A Warwick, R Herring, W Herbst, D Tuohy, F van der Merwe, R Diack, R Wilson, S Reidy. Reps: R Andrew ht; S O’Hagan, A O’Connor, J Stockdale, C Ross, J Andrew (yc 73), N McComb, C Black, L Stevenson, B Ross, M Heaney, M McComish, C Joyce, K McCall
Referee: G Clancy (IRFU)