A scintillating 20 minute burst, at the start of the second half, from Ulster’s young Ravens absolutely destroyed a powerful Leinster side. Ulster scored five tries in total but it could have been more as the sleight of hand from Patrick Jackson and Luke Marshall had their opponents grasping at thin air.
Leinster started the game well with their big pack dominating the breakdown. After ten minutes Ian McKinley kicked the hosts into a 3-0 lead with a penalty. The home side continued to dominate the opening quarter and it looked as if it was going to be a long afternoon for the Ulster youngsters with quite a few passes going astray.
However Ulster finally began to click and a tremendous break on the left by Chris Cochrane, Jamie Smith and David McGuigan was worked to the right where Tommy Seymour outstriped the defence to score in the corner 3 – 5.
Leinster hit back, applying considerable pressure to the Ulster line, and after some good work by the home side’s pack Leinster winger Michael Keating burst through a couple of loose tackles to score under the posts. Out-half McKinley slotted home the extras to make it 10-5. The hosts could have went further ahead but for some excellent corner to corner covering by McGuigan who did well to get out of trouble.
Ulster’s young backs were starting to get a feel for the ball and the back row of Ali Birch, Ross Hackney and McGuigan were beginning to rampage. A powerful break by Luke Marshall took Ulster up the middle of the pitch where the ball was fed to Smith who popped it inside to Seymour to crash through several tackles at pace to score under the posts. Patrick Jackson added the conversion to take the half time score to Leinster 10 Ulster 12, with the visitors being a bit fortunate to turn round in the lead.
The Ravens hit a twenty minute golden spell at the start of the second half and the slight of hand of Patrick Jackson and Luke Marshall was a joy to behold as they completely bamboozled the hosts (and this cameraman who couldn’t keep up with some of the moves!)
Jonny Shiels crossed the line first, after Jackson and Marshall had worked their magic, with Jackson adding the extras. Shortly after, substitute Conor Gaston powered down the wing to be stopped inches short. Ulster stole the resulting lineout and Iain Henderson found his way to the line after great work from the pack. Jackson again converted and the Ravens looked comfortable with the scoreboard reading 10 – 26.
Leinster fought back and McKinley’s 62 minute penalty reduced the deficit to 13 points with just under a quarter of the game remaining. The Ravens swapped out Patrick Jackson and Jonny Shiels with Niall O’Connor and Michael Allen and both slotted easily into the free flowing rugby, combining to send Conor Gaston clear ten minutes from the end for another silky try by the Ravens putting the visitors out of touch at 13 – 31.
Leinster’s Darren Hudson touched down late on for a consolation try and despite losing Allen to the sin bin with minutes to go the Ravens held on comfortably to close the game out.
Leinster A: Niall Morris, Andrew Conway, Darren Hudson, Noel Reid, Michael Keating, Ian McKinley, Paul O’Donohoe, Ben Marshall, Jordi Murphy, Ciaran Ruddock, Mark Flanagan, Eoin Sheriff, Simon Shawe, Jason Harris-Wright, Jack McGrath, Tom Sexton, Ben Prescott, Stewart Maguire, Michael Kearney, Aaron Dundon, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Sam Coghlan Murray.
Ulster Ravens: Jamie Smith, Chris Cochrane, Jonny Shiels, Luke Marshall, Tommy Seymour, Patrick Jackson, Blane McIlroy, Ross Hackney, David McGuigan, Ali Birch, David Huston, Iain Henderson, Alan Whitten, Niall Annett, Conor Carey, Jonny Murphy, Kyle McCall, Tom Patton, Paul Pritchard, Jason, Bloomfield, Michael Allen, Conor Gaston, Niall O’Connor.