Ulster U20’s narrowly lost out 15 -18 to a physical Leinster side at Ravenhill on Friday evening.

The home side started well looking to move their bigger opponents around the pitch and after several barging runs, from Simpson, Warwick and McGuigan, Ulster’s Captain Luke Marshall forced his way over the line for the opening score. Jackson was unlucky to hit the post with his conversion attempt but the young outhalf made amends soon after with a penalty to give Ulster a deserved 8 – 0 lead.

Ulster continued to dominate the opening exchanges with the back row of McGuigan, Gallagher and Threlfor particularly impressive but as the half went on the Leinster side managed to work their way back into the game with outhalf Cathal Marsh adding two penalties for their efforts taking the half time score to 8 – 6.

Ulster tried to re-establish their lead at the start of the second half but the pack looked to be struggling in the loose against their heavier opponents and some wayward kicking and disappointing line outs allowed the visitors to dominate possession.

Leinster winger Andrew Boyle eventually found himself in space to go over for a try and with Marsh adding the extras Leinster took an 8 – 13 lead. The visitors continued to press hard for the next twenty minutes but it looked like it might be Ulster’s night with Marsh missing two straightforward penalties and the home side looking dangerous on the break. However, after a period of sustained pressure Leinster’s Eoin Joyce forced his way over for a decisive 10 point lead.

Ulster raised themselves for a late rally and finally learning that possession is king kept the ball in the pack for an up-field rumble. After two impressive scrums they eventually forced their way over the line for Irvine to touch down. Jackson added the conversion to take the final score to 15 -18.

ULSTER U20: Charlie Simpson, Chris Colvin, Stewart McIlwaine, Luke Marshall, Michael McAuley, Paddy Jackson, Conor Spence, Andy Warwick, Jonny Murphy, Kyle McCall, David Whan, Iain Henderson, Calum Thelfor, Dominic Gallagher, David McGuigan, Darryl Maxwell, Conor Carey, Adam Best, Stephen Irvine, Stephen Leckey, Blane McIlroy, Chris Leathem

LEINSTER U20: Michael Sherlock, Sam Coghlan-Murray, Alex Kelly, Colin O’Shea, Andrew Boyle, Michael McGrath, Cathal Marsh, Patrick O’Driscoll, Peter Du Toit, Peter Reilly, Tadhg Furlong, David Doyle, Martin Moore, Michael Kearney, Robert Hynes, Eoin Joyce, Patrick Dix, Mark McGroarty, Jordi Murphy


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  1. When I arrived the Leinster team were making their way to the dressing room after the warm up my first thought was those lads aren’t under twenty — big physical mature more like twenty two or twenty three and definitly seem at least a year older than the Ulster side . At this level physical maturity counts.

    In the latter part of the first half and during the second half the Ulster backline were the authors of their own down fall —- if your going to kick away possession against a more mature backline finding touch is a must , Ulster’s kicks were too long and when the first tackle was missed Leinster ran the ball back at pace.

    In Maxwell and Jackson Ulster had possibly the two most creative backs on the pitch whose efforts were hindered by a slow and often semi-wayward service from the scrum-half Conor Spence who in my opinion should have been subsistuted sooner than he was–he did not impress me in the Schools Cup final and has not improved since that game .By semi wayward I mean the pass was either to high ( head high) or falling short (knee high) and at the player instead of in front. By slow I mean he arrived at the breakdown two-three paces behind when the ball was becoming available.

    Leinster played a simple game and Doyle on the wing was direct and purposefull each time get got the ball.

    The Ulster forwards played well and the set scrum and line out were the better of the two sides but the Leinster defence cover and presence at the breakdown was of a high standard

    On the Ulster side two or three may make the grade to senior rugby but it is really too soon to identify who and when.

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