Ulster A completed their participation in the Celtic Cup on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 12 – 49 win against Connacht Eagles at the Sportsground.
Ulster schoolboy Aaron Sexton grabbed a brace to make it seven tries in six games for the tournament, Ireland 7’s squad member Robert Baloucoune also crossed twice with Peter Cooper, Tom O’Toole and Caleb Montgomery crossing once. Bruce Houston converted six of the seven tries with Jonny Stewart converting the seventh.
The results from the final weekend of the conference matches were as follows.
|Fri 12 Oct 18||Leinster||46-25||Munster||Donnybrook|
|Sat 13 Oct 18||Scarlets||58-12||Dragons||Church Bank|
|Sat 13 Oct 18||Cardiff||42-17||Ospreys||Cardiff Arms Park|
|Sun 14 Oct 18||Connacht||12-49||Ulster||Sportsground|
Which leaves the conference tables as follows, with Leinster and Scarlets going forward to play the final this weekend.
So what sort of tournament has it been for Ulster A?
The competition got off to the worst of starts with comprehensive defeats at home by Leinster and Scarlets, the latter being particularly disappointing. However, since then, they did redeem themselves with four wins on the bounce, starting with a 3 – 7 away win to Cardiff in Round 3.
The win against Cardiff would arguably be their most impressive result as the Welsh side still had something to play for at this stage of the tournament. The more substantial wins, against Dragons (home) and Osprey and Connacht (away) perhaps less significant as progression was unlikely for any of those sides.
However, if the fixtures (with the same results) had been the other way round I’d probably be complaining about a fantastic start which tailed off due to the demands of the senior team. On the whole though it’s been a worthwhile exercise but I’m not too sure about the format of the tournament, specifically, I’d have loved to have seen a match between Ulster and Munster to get a real feel of where our development programme is in the hierarchy of Irish Rugby.
Leinster are obviously miles ahead of all runners with their academy system. They don’t have the same domination at underage and schools level so they are obviously doing something right once they get their hands on their youngsters. Ulster have made significant progress under Kieran Campbell over the last few years, and I thought his Ulster Schools side at the Schools Interprovincial Tournament was the best team there, hopefully the new regime will invest internally to enable Campbell to bring through what appears to be a talented bunch of youngsters.
Who did what?
Ulster A called upon 44 players over the six games 34 of whom appeared more than once. They scored 165 points which came from 21 tries, 18 conversions 7 penalties and 1 drop goal. They conceded 141 points throughout the tournament.
The star of the show was schoolboy Sexton who scored seven tries in six appearances and it’s a special shout out for FRU Favourite Cooper with the Malone prop coming second in the try scoring stats, alongside backs Hume and Baloucoune, with two tries apiece.
Bruce Houston scored 31 tries from the boot, sharing kicking duties with Johnny McPhillips who contributed 25 points.
To the best of our knowledge, the squad appearances and points scored by all the players used is shown below, in order of points scored.
|Rodney Ah You||4||1||5|
|Schalk vd Merwe||1||0|