The IRFU’s inaugural U18 Festival of Rugby concluded today with Connacht Combined winning the club circuit and Leinster piping Ulster to claim the Schools’ circuit.
Day 3 Results
|IQ Rugby||34||–||27||Munster Schools|
|Connacht Combined||41||–||15||Ulster Clubs|
|Leinster Schools||32||–||22||Ulster Schools|
|Leinster Clubs||29||–||7||Munster Clubs|
Connacht Combined 41
Ulster U18 Clubs 15
The club side succumbed to a heavy defeat, in their last match, to circuit winners Connacht Combined.
Connacht raced into a 12-0 lead, in seven minutes, before Ulster’s Luke McMullan was yellow carded.
McMullan returned from the sin bin to score his side’s first try with dancing feet helping him break the Connacht line and touch down.
Two more Connacht tries followed before James McMaster crossed for Ulster, leaving the scoreline 24-10 in the favour of the western province.
A quickfire double after the break allowed Connacht to consolidate their lead but flanker Callum Smyton crossed for Ulster with ten minutes to go.
Despite a valiant effort, Ulster were unable to cross for the bonus point score.
Leinster U18 Schools 32
Ulster U18 Schools 22
Ulster missed out on winning the Schools’ circuit with a narrow defeat by their Leinster counterparts.
Ulster scored the first points of the match through the boot of Nathan Doak but Leinster answered when Ben Murphy caught the Ulster off guard and sniped around the ruck and under the sticks.
A beautiful play gave Ulster their first try. Conor McKee dotted down after strong running and an offload from Adam Hanna.
The lead was extended to eight points minutes later, when the Ulster pack mauled the ball over the line and Tom Stewart emerged from the bottom with the ball.
Leinster brought another level in intensity in the second half and two successive tries gave them a 19-15 lead.
Conor Rankin answered a Leinster penalty with a dazzling run from just outside the opposition’s 22 to tie the game up at 22 apiece.
It wasn’t to be for Ulster as a late try and penalty saw Leinster lift the trophy for the Schools’ tournament.
Pictures from both matches below. Photo credit John McMurtry.
This was an enjoyable competition and a good move by the IRFU to bring the U18 School and Club provincial sides together.
Ulster Club will have gained a lot from the experience and while they failed to win any of their matches they were not that far off. A bit more work on fitness by the players and regular “team” sessions throughout the season and they will be a much more competitive outfit. It’s been a good benchmark for the participating players and hopefully they will take back their learnings to their clubs.
The Ulster Schools side were comfortably the most exciting team on show in both competitions and they really should have wrapped up their half of the tournament with something to spare.
Unfortunately their decision to play a kicking game in the second half played into Leinster’s hands and three very soft tries gave the boys in blue something to defend, which they did with resolute determination. However plenty to be positive about for the Ulster Schools side.