Saturday saw the final game of the Interprovincial campaign for an Ulster team that were confident to record a victory over their Leinster counterparts.
The game kicked off and at the first take by Leinster, Ulster centre Dale Black and prop John Purdy smothered the catcher and forced a spillage, however the referee gave the resulting scrum to Leinster with the Ulster boys adjudged to have knocked on.
From the scrum loose forward Tommy Ratahi made excellent yards through the new Ulster midfield of Stewart Paul, Johnny Cullen and Black with the later completing the tackle.
However, Leinster got a quick play the ball and released their props, Eoin King and Shane Reilly, to create havock in the Ulster defence with big runs.
Half back Brian Flanagan then stepped in to take control releasing the backs and executing a well placed kick to the Ulster goal line.
Ulster worked they’re way out through winger Phill Morrison and Full Back Andrew Findlater producing great breakaway â€˜scoots’. This paved the way for Ulster’s forwards to do damage, and that they did through Tim Morton and Gary Hall. Andrew Hodgen then put in a deep kick of his own which was chased by Andrew Todd who tackled Leinster Full Back David Delahunt in the left corner.
In the same set for Leinster they gained a penalty for an offside in the Ulster defence and kicked to the corner. The kick brought them into the Ulster 20 and drives by the pack brought them to the line.
Up stepped Eoin King again and barged over from 5 meters out to open the games scoring with a successful conversion.
Two sets were to pass from both teams before the next score and it was to be Leinster who did the damage again with Captain Mark Sherlock to bag the try. Conversion successful.
Ulster were shocked by this ferocious start by Leinster and realised they must up their intensity in their all-round play. And that they did. Hooker Wayne Kelly started to boss the ruck with good jumps and his forwards started hitting better lines on the shoulder of defenders and back in towards the tackle area. This created space wide for Cullen who charged through a gap and then released Todd who galloped up the line, cut inside and fed the supporting Stewart Paul. Kick successful from Kelly.
The kick off was claimed by Findlater who fed replacement prop David Cornet, who made his way to the 40 meter line. From the play the ball, the Leinster markers were penalised for not being square and Ulster kicked to touch creating excellent field position. Ulster were starting to get into a rhythm and from the penalty made their way to the Leinster line only to be held out by excellent defence. Unclear calls created confusion in the Ulster ranks which led to mistakes and a turnover on the last tackle on the Leinster line. Ulster kicked into defensive mode and compressed the Leinster attack to limited field position.
Big hits from Dave Lynn, Kelly and captain Kyle Graydon turned defence into an attack and forced a knock-on on 4th tackle resulting in a scrum on the half-way line. From the feed loose forward Lynn carried to the middle of the pitch dragging the defence across the field. Play was switched on the next play and Paul found a gap which he exploited to outpace the cover to the line to record his second try. Conversion missed.
With half time looming Ulster had their tales up but it was Leinster who ended the half with an unconverted try. Half time 16-10 to Leinster.
Second half started the way the first ended, with Ulster in the ascendancy. Sets were traded with Ulster making most headway through their replacements, prop Rodney Bennett and second row John Dowey. However it was Leinster who would score first again through that man King, who broke the line with an excellent switch from his half which wrong footed the Ulster defence.
He straightened up and executed a fine â€˜Tongan side-step’ to beat the fullback and dived across the line to bag his brace of tries. Conversion successful.
This again sparked the Ulster come back and after two sets they managed to barge over through John Dowey to score a crucial try. Conversion successful.
Sets were again traded with mistakes starting to creep in through spilled passes and missed tackles. And it was from a spilled pass by Ulster that led to Leinster’s next try. From the resulting scrum loose forward Ratahi picked and attacked the Ulster line drawing in the defence. He found his elbows and knees and created a quick play the ball opening a quick attack for stand off Flanagan. A clever chip behind the stressed defence was collected by Delahunt who fed his winger to score under the posts for an easy conversion.
Ulster had their backs to the wall, however to their credit kept plucking away at a tiring Leinster team. They were rewarded for this with a well worked rugby league try. The scorer was Duncan Gleadhill however it was created by all members of the team. Conversion successful.
It looked like Ulster were clawing back into the game but right on the stroke of full time the last say was given to Leinster who, through that man King, scored his hat-trick of tries with the resulting kick missed.
Leinster 32 – 22 Ulster
Man of the Match went to Eoin King.