Friday 22 March 2019

Henderson makes promising return for Ulster men in lacklustre Ospreys victory

Ospreys 0 Ulster 8

Ulster players celebrate after the match against Ospreys. Photo: Sportsfile
Ulster players celebrate after the match against Ospreys. Photo: Sportsfile

Iain Henderson gave Joe Schmidt a welcome selection headache as the Ireland lock played the full 80 minutes in Ulster's victory over the Ospreys.

The 2017 Lions tourist had one of his quieter games but the sight of Henderson charging around the field was good news for Schmidt.

This narrow victory was enough to temporarily elevate Ulster back into the Guinness PRO14 Conference B play-off places with Benetton hosting the Scarlets today.

A second-half try from man of the match Stuart McCloskey and a late John Cooney penalty was enough to secure Ulster a vital win in Bridgend against a gutsy Ospreys outfit.

The opening 40 minutes was a dreadful advert for the PRO14 with neither side able to get on the scoreboard.

However, Ulster looked the stronger team and should have opened the scoring only for Angus Kernohan to spill the ball forward with the try line at his mercy. McCloskey also threatened but he too got white-line fever as he attempted to score.

Louis Ludik of Ulster is tackled by Matthew Aubrey and Sam Davies of Ospreys. Photo: Sportsfile
Louis Ludik of Ulster is tackled by Matthew Aubrey and Sam Davies of Ospreys. Photo: Sportsfile

Henderson was then lucky to stay on the field after a dangerous neck roll on Ospreys openside Sam Cross.

It took 47 minutes for the first try to be scored with McCloskey making a 30-metre break into the Ospreys 22 before offloading to Peter Nelson.

The Ulster full-back was brought down just short of the line but the ball was recycled and spread wide by Cooney with McCloskey crossing at the far right-hand corner.

Cooney nailed a late penalty for Ulster from 40 metres out to take the losing bonus point away from the Ospreys.

OSPREYS - D Evans; H Dirksen, Allen, Thomas-Wheeler, Morgan (Giles 12); S Davies (Price 58), Aubrey (Morgan-Williams 78); Lay (Jenkins 58), Baldwin (Otten 58), Botha (Fia 58), Ashley (Griffiths 78), B Davies (McCusker 54), Cracknell, Cross, King.

Ulster - Nelson; Kernohan (Lyttle 73), Cave, McCloskey, Ludik; Lowry (Hume 74), Cooney; O'Sullivan (Warwick 72), Herring, Moore (O'Toole 60), O'Connor (Treadwell 60), Henderson, Ross (Reidy 68), Murphy, Timoney.

Ref - Q Immelman (South Africa)

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Why Irish fans shouldn't lose faith and how Joe Schmidt can turn things around for the World Cup

In association with Aldi

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport