Ulster Clubs U18 side went down 13 – 15 to their Connacht counterparts, in the first match of the interprovincial series, at Banbridge Rugby Club on Saturday afternoon.
Ulster enjoyed long periods of possession but were unable to find that final ball to break down the resolute Connacht defence until the last minute of the game when, impressive centre Jack McCool finally crossed for Ulster’s only try. Full back Joseph Bingham slotted over the conversion, to add to two penalties, but it was too little to late for the home side.
Ulster were the first on the scoreboard with Bingham slotting over an early penalty somewhat against the run of play in the early exchanges.
The visitors hit back shortly after, with a well worked try that saw their full back go over for the opening try towards the end of the first quarter.
Things got worse for Ulster when Connacht’s rangy right winger broke through three tackles to score in the corner to move the score along to 3 – 10. The home side enjoyed a spirited end to the first half but a few loose passes spoiled their work and Ulster didn’t seem to have the power, pace or composure to break down a well organised Connacht defence.
Half Time: Ulster 3 Connacht 10.
Ulster were first on the score board in the second half with Bingham slotting over his second penalty but Connacht hit back quickly with their third try of the game and there looked a distinct possibility that the visitors would pull away with this one.
However Ulster regrouped and upped their intensity for the remainder of the game. Back row players Cory Logan and Josh Ferguson were prominent during this period, alongside hard working hooker Adam McBurney and scrum half Jason Gribben and Ulster came close on several occasions, only to be held up inches from the line.
Ulster’s breakthrough finally came when impressive centre McCool broke through in the final minute to score under the posts. Bingham completed a 100% day from the tee when he slotted over the conversion but the home team were left to rue their mistakes as the referee blew for full time.
Ulster U18 Club: 1. Niall Farrelly (Virginia RFC), 2. Adam McBurney (Randalstown RFC), 3. Jonathon Rosbotham (Dromore RFC), 4. Ronan McCusker (Rainey Old Boys RFC), 5. Kieran Thompson (Ballymena RFC), 6. Cory Logan (City of Derry RFC), 7. Ryan Hughes (Dromore RFC), 8. Josh Ferguson (Malone RFC), 9. Jason Gribbon (Banbridge RFC), 10. Trevor Morris (Dromore RFC), 11. Evan Burke (Cavan RFC), 12. Jack McCool (City of Derry RFC), 13. Ryan Purvis (Portadown RFC), 14. James Waugh (Banbridge RFC), 15. Joseph Bingham (Ballynahinch RFC). Replacements: 16. Jonathon Stewart (Carrickfergus RFC), 17. Dermot Gallagher (Donegal Town RFC), 18. Ben Halliday (Malone RFC), 19. Matthew McMaster (Dromore RFC), 20. Christopher Wilson (Dromore RFC), 21. Josh Cromie (Banbridge RFC), 22. Cameron Fulton (Coleraine RFC), 23. Andrew Hutchinson (Banbridge RFC)