Ulster Under 20’s got their interprovincial campaign off to a good start with a 27 – 7 win against Connacht Under 20’s at Ravenhill last night.

Sean O’Hagan was the only scorer in the first half with a 20th minute penalty but Ulster cut loose in the second half with tries from Connor Young, Adam Liddell, Jack Owens and Lorcan Dow, O’Hagan converting two.

The first half was a truly dire affair, just screaming out for someone to take control. Connacht dominated possession and territory with Ulster happy to sit back and soak up the pressure.

The visitors looked on top in the scrums and the loose with Ulster only responding in fits and starts, with Jacob Stockdale, Lorcan Dow and Sean O’Hagan all enjoying runs, but the team as a whole lacked composure, snatching at chances and only really turning it on when Connacht threatened in the Ulster 22.

The visitors bore the brunt of refereeing decisions, which gave Ulster an out on more than one occasion, and Ulster’s scoring chances were limited to a few long range penalties from O’Hagan either side of his successful penalty at the end of the first quarter.

With no further scores the teams turned round with Ulster leading 3 – 0.

I trudged somewhat disconsolately down to the Aquinas End for the second half, passing an equally glum Brian McLaughlin along the way, wishing I’d stayed at home to watch the PRO12 on TV.

However things improved almost immediately after the restart with scrum half Conor Young jinking his way to the try line after Connacht failed to clear the kick off. O’Hagan added the extras and Ulster led 10 – 0.

Connacht responded immediately pinning Ulster in their own 22 for the next 15 minutes before a regulation pick and go off the back of the scrum from Connacht’s Stephen McVeigh broke the Ulster defence, all too easily, for the visitors try. The conversion by Aidan Moynihan took the score to 10 – 7.

Unfortunately for the visitors Ulster dominated the rest of the proceedings. A well timed run from Adam Liddell broke the Connacht defence four minutes later to slide home under the posts and, with O’Hagan converting, Ulster extended their lead to 17 – 7. Three minutes later the impressive Jack Owens outstripped the defenders out wide for Ulster’s third with 65 minutes gone.

Connacht searched for some sort of response but Ulster always looked more likely and so it proved with the impressive Lorcan Dow rallying his troops for one last push over try in the closing minutes with the big No. 8 dotting down for the bonus point score.

Final score: Ulster 27 Connacht 7. 

Ulster U20: Jack Owens, Adam Liddell, Sam Arnold, Conor McKee, Jacob Stockdale, Sean O’Hagan, Conor Young, Michael Lagan, Zac McCall, Dane Fitzpatrick, Tom Donnan, Nigel Simpson, Callum Irvine, Caleb Montgomery, Lorcan Dow. Replacements: Andrew McGrath, Darryl Morton, Angelo Marica, Josh Davidson, Ross Todd, Josh Fullerton, Jack Milligan, Michael Cartmill

Connacht U20: Anthony McGivney, Joseph D’Arcy, Dwayne Corcoran, Ben Ridgeway, Oisin Leahy, Aidan Moynihan, Conor Lowndes, Conor Kyne, Rory Litchfield, Conan O’Donnell, Cian Romaine, James Doyle(C), Alex Penny, Joshua Pim, Stephen McVeigh. Replacements: Pat O’Toole, Conor Doyle, Craig Hansberry, Roy Stanley, Marc Kelly, Ricky Dixon, Andrew Shanahan, Dylan Kelso.

Pictures from Ulster v Connacht U20’s Interprovincial


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