Ulster Rugby came out on top 17 – 13 against Leinster in an emotionally charged PRO12 match at Ravenhill on Saturday afternoon.
As I was mostly celebrating the end of another season this weekend I didn’t get the time to write a preview but this sort of result is (probably) what I would have predicted; the emotion of the occasion giving Ulster the edge between two understrength, but evenly matched, sides.
Ulster (10) 17
TRY: Roger Wilson, Andrew Trimble
CON: Paddy Jackson (2)
PEN: Paddy Jackson
Leinster (6) 13
TRY: Penalty Try
CON: Joey Carbery
PEN: Joey Carbery (2)
Ulster said goodbye to two wonderful servants in Ruan Pienaar and Roger Wilson who have contributed more than any of us supporters could possibly imagine with a combined 362 appearances in 17 seasons of service between them.
Two times winner of the FRU Player of the Year, Roger Wilson, on his 221st appearance for his province, got the ball rolling for Ulster with a ninth-minute try. Joey Carbery had already put Leinster in front with a fourth-minute penalty but Wilson’s effort, off the back of a scrum, converted by Paddy Jackson, put Ulster into a lead that they never relinquished.
Carbery and Jackson swapped penalties before the break for the teams to turn round with the score reading Ulster 10 Leinster 6.
Ulster were under pressure in scrum and lineout but their vigorous defence forced enough mistakes for a good supply of ball and as the game approached the end of the third quarter the stage was set for a moment of brilliance from the departing Pienaar.
Sure enough, the great one delivered with a delightful chip into the hands of Andrew Trimble who crossed out wide. Jackson converted to give Ulster a 17 – 6 lead after 56 minutes.
Leinster responded almost immediately and, after a period of intense pressure on the Ulster line, they were awarded a penalty try, converted by Carbery, to make it a one-score game with eighteen minutes left.
Whether by accident or design, the ovation afforded Wilson, as he departed after Leinster’s score, took some sting out of their revival and the cacophony of noise that greeted Pienaar’s departure, on the seventieth minute, left the remainder of the game pretty unfocused. Leinster did get their act together for one last attack but Ulster turned the ball over and kicked the ball out to start the extended celebrations for two fantastic servants of the province of Ulster.
Final score: Ulster Rugby 17 Leinster Rugby 13.
Ulster Rugby: Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Charles Piutau, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Rodney Ah You, Kieran Treadwell, Alan O’Connor, Robbie Diack, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson. Replacements: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Ricky Lutton, Chris Henry, Nick Timoney, Paul Marshall, Peter Nelson, Jacob Stockdale.