Friday 23 March 2018

Ulster finish with flourish

Neath 15 Ulster 34

Ulster got their pre-season preparations back on track with a hard-fought win at the Gnoll.

John Burns, Craig Gilroy and Robbie Diack all touched down in a dominant first-half performance.

A spirited Neath launched a comeback in the second half and grabbed two close-range tries as Ulster's inexperience showed, but the visitors put the result beyond doubt with late tries from Blane McIlroy and Peter Nelson.

Ulster started the clash in south Wales firing on all cylinders.

Paddy Jackson slotted an early penalty and Brian McLaughlin's men extended their lead on six minutes when Burns went over. Gilroy's try on 20 minutes put them in the driving seat.

Jackson narrowly missed with the touchline conversion and minutes later Dai Langdon hit back with a penalty for the hosts.

But Ulster finished the half in perfect fashion with Diack collecting a Gilroy pop from the ground following a break from Chris Farrell. Jackson slotted the simple conversion to hand his side a 20-3 half-time lead.

Ulster conceded two quick-fire pushover tries after the break, first from Lee Evans and then Kevin James. Langdon converted the second try to narrow the gap to five points.

The visitors' superior fitness was evident in the final stages and they dominated at the close, with McIlroy and Nelson crossing for late tries.

Neath -- A Bramwell; K James, N Brew (L Ford 43), G McCarthy, J Davies (A Jenkins 45); D Langdon (J Thomas 63) , C Morgans; N Downs (O Ford 67), A James (A Littlehales 40), J Reeves (T Price 57) , A Powell (G Short 68), M Collins, L Evans (L Ward 71), G Gravell (capt, A Whitney 39) , S Jones.

Ulster -- P Nelson; M Allen (C Gaston 40), C Farrell, L Marshall (S Olding 40), C Gilroy; P Jackson, I Porter (B McIlroy 60) , P McAllister (C Black 45), J Burns, J Cronin (A Macklin 45), L Stevenson (Capt), N McComb, M McComish (J Simpson 68), W Faloon (A Birch 40) , R Diack.

Irish Independent

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