Ulster’s revival came to a shuddering halt against a workman like Leinster side on a cold and frosty Saturday night at Ravenhill.
While Ulster have improved substantially in recent months, particularly in defence, there is still a substantial body of work to be done in attack or, perhaps more correctly, in choosing the correct moment to attack.
Ulster still seem to be having difficulty in coping with the ELV’s, particularly in the back three. Trimble and Nagusa appear to have trouble fielding kicks and neither appears to have the vision to run forcefully out of defence. Cunningham and Schifcoske are both very solid under the high ball but neither has the out and out pace required to make a decisive break. This invariably means that Ulster inevitably loose out the aerial battle that the new game appears to have become. Danielli would have had a field day in this game, but then perhaps Leinster would not have chosen to kick so much.
Against lesser sides Ulster’s agressive defence usually generates enough chances but if the opposition achieve parity, or better, at the breakdown then Ulster are struggling to make chances in the right areas of the field and this was the case against Leinster.
With the Leinster pack more than holding their own up front and little threat from the back three Ulster had few attacking options in the second half and this frustration led to Humphreys and Wallace taking reckless chances in their own half which gifted the game to Leinster. While Humphreys and Wallace have received a certain amount of stick over their decision making it would be perhaps more beneficial for Ulster to improve the positional play and attacking prowess of the back three.
If Ulster can improve the threat from returning kicks then the rebuilding process will have taken another huge step forward. Let’s hope things improve for Thomond Park or it’s going to be a long night in Limerick.