A super last 20 minutes sealed a crucial try bonus point for a youthful Ulster side. Greg Jones scored twice along with Craig Gilroy and Jonny Stewart in the second half while the first half tries came from Angus Kernohan and Matt Faddes.
In reality though the game was over as a contest when George Clancy showed Faddes a yellow card for a high tackle on Tommy O’Brien in the first quarter. It seemed a harsh decision to card the Kiwi especially as O’Brien slipped before contact. During the sin bin period Leinster were able to run in two tries and secure their bonus point.
Leo Cullen’s men were a cut above Ulster in the first half with Irish U20 international Harry Byrne controlling the strings from out half. Max Deegan opened the scoring for the home side with a try after just two minutes. Credit to Ulster, they dusted themselves off and came away with an Angus Kernohan try from their first visit into the Leinster 22.
Scott Penny grabbed a try before Matt Faddes was sent to the sin bin. Penny added his second and Robbie Henshaw scored the bonus point try for the home side shortly before the half hour mark, which sealed the game for the boys in blue.
Matt Faddes returned to field and added a second Ulster score after picking up a loose Max Deegan pass while Fergus McFadden crossed for Leinster’s fifth on the half time whistle.
As per usual, struggling to get hold of the ball was a major problem for Ulster and any ball they did get was kicked away due to the insane pressure that the home side were putting Dan McFarland’s men under. Tackles were being missed which made it hard to stop the resurgent Leinster attack and for a fairly inexperienced side, this proved a killer blow.
It took just eight minutes into the second half for Leinster to score their sixth and seventh tries with Rob Kearney and Cian Kelleher crossing respectively. Craig Gilroy added Ulster’s third try just before the hour mark before Deegan grabbed his second try off the back of a five metre Leinster scrum. A soft try but that’s to be expected from a tiring and under-strength Ulster side.
A bad night got better for Ulster however when Craig Gilroy intercepted and Greg Jones crossed for two tries to secure the bonus point which could be vital at the end of the season. The last 15 minutes were excellent from an Ulster perspective. Ethan McIlroy replaced Rob Lyttle early on and put in a sterling performance. A couple of jinking breaks broke the gainline but it wasn’t until the last quarter when Ulster were able to capitalise on them.
Ulster upped the tempo and forced Leinster into conceding penalties. They were rewarded for their efforts with a sixth try coming from Jonny Stewart. The ball carriers stood up as Matty Rea, Greg Jones and Azur Allison made yards which put the away side on the front foot.
A very pleasing result and one that I was hopeful but not very confident of before the game kicked off. It’s easy to say that Leinster took their foot of the pedal in the second half but previous years have shown that Ulster have not been good at capitalising on this. I don’t think any momentum generated from the previous five wins has been lost and two very winnable matches against Connacht and Munster await before Europe returns.
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