Ulster are still in search of their first win in the Rainbow Cup following a 21 – 17 defeat by Leinster on Friday evening at the RDS. It’s Ireland’s fourth successive defeat in all competitions as Dan McFarland continues to struggle to get the best out of his charges for a full 80 minutes.
The Ulster points came from tries from Robert Baloucoune and Craig Gilroy with Billy Burns adding a penalty and conversion and Ian Madigan adding the final conversion. It was a valiant effort but it was another game where Ulster failed to capitalise on long periods of possession and territory.
Leinster (7) 21
TRY: Cian Healy, Jack Conan, Robbie Henshaw
CON: Garry Ringrose (3)
Ulster (7) 17
TRY: Robert Baloucoune, Craig Gilroy
CON: Billy Burns, Ian Madigan
PEN: Billy Burns
Ulster came out intent on making a statement and dominated the opening quarter. However, misfiring lineouts accounted for two good chances and it wasn’t until the 18th minute when a well timed intervention by Jacob Stockdale opened up space out wide for Baloucoune to to race to the line.
Burns added the conversion but minutes later his dilly dallying let Leinster into the game when hios clearance kick was charged down by Ross Byrne giving Leinster a foothold in Ulster’s 22. A few rucks later and Cian Healy went under the posts for a dubious enough try but lazy officiating missed the knock on and the score stood. Ringrose converted to tie the game.
With another set of officials Leinster could have been down to 14 men shortly after as Robbie Henshaw came in far too high for his attempted tackle on Baloucoune. Somewhat naively, the officials found in favour of the Leinster player after a cursory review. Execute that type of assault in any club game in Ireland and an all out brawl would ensue. Ironically, Henshaw was taken off for an HIA after crashing into Baloucoune.
Both teams had chances before the break but opportune interventions from Caelan Doris and Stockdale kept the score at 7 – all as the teams changed ends.
Ulster showed the limitation of their ambitions at the start of the second half with two penalty attempts from Burns, the second of which was successful. It put Ulster back in front 7 – 10 but it seemed to be interpreted by Leinster a a lack of desire to take them on in the forwards.
Ten minutes of dominance by Leinster put them in control with, replacement, Jack Conan running a strong line to evede Iain Henderson and Rob Herring to sprint for the line unopposed and minutes later Henshaw crossed out wide. Ringrose converted both to give Leinster a 21 – 10 lead with just under 20 minutes remaining.
Ulster kept plugging away and got some reward with a late try from Gilroy, after a good pass by replacement Madigan who also converted. The score gave Ulster a losing bonus point to lift them off the bottom of the table, for a day at least.
LEINSTER: Jimmy O’Brien, Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (C), Cian Healy, Seán Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Ryan Baird, James Ryan, Josh Murphy, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris. Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Michael Milne, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Jack Conan, Cormac Foley, Rory O’Loughlin, Tommy O’Brien.
ULSTER: Jacob Stockdale, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy, Billy Burns, David Shanahan, Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Iain Henderson (C), Matty Rea, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney. Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Greg Jones, Nathan Doak, Ian Madigan, Rob Lyttle.