Perfect conditions awaited Connacht at Ravenhill as they bid to achieve their first win in Belfast in fifty years. It was Ulster however who were first on the scoreboard with great team play resulting in captain Rory Best crossing over the line five minutes into the game. Ian Humphreys kicked the conversion which brought Ulster into an early 7-0 lead, exactly the sort of high intensity start Ulster needed after their rather static openings in matches of late.
Straight from the restart, Ulster conceded possession which led to the setting up of a Connacht drop goal for Ian Keatley. On ten minutes, Connaught conceded a penalty to the Ulstermen which looked like the gap between the two teams would stretch by a further three points. However, Ulster opted for kicking into Connacht territory for a line out. The subsequent line out was ruled as not being straight and it went down as a wasted chance to add points.
Ian Keatley just pulled a penalty attempt wide on twenty minutes keeping the score at 7-3 to Ulster. Excellent counter rucking from Connacht at the breakdown results in Carr breaking free through the middle. Dodgy Ulster tackling attempts and Carr’s pace causing all sorts of problems and serving a reminder to Ulster and the Ravenhill faithful that the win was by no means certain.
With Touhy down receiving treatment after further pressure from Connacht, the referee allowed Ulster to take a quick penalty inside their own 22. Humphries turned defence into attack beautifully and D’Arcy crossed over the line following a two on one situation in Ulsters favour.
Humphries converted to increase the lead, 14-3 now. Keatley took advantage of a penalty opportunity, just inside the Ulster half, on the stroke of half time to narrow the deficit. Ulster 14, Connacht 6 at the break in play.
Connacht started the second half well, Keatley unlucky to see his penalty attempt come back off the post three minutes in. However, it wasn’t long before he got another opportunity to add to his tally, converting his next penalty attempt to bring the score to 14-9 on 46 minutes. Connacht had now scored just prior to and after half time, whilst Ulster were yet to get into the second half.
Two minutes later, Humphries was given the chance to kick start his team with a converted penalty. 17-9 they now led. As play approached 50 minutes Connacht’s travelling supporters had reason to cheer as Sean Cronin left the Ulster defence in his wake before racing through for a try, and giving Keatley an easy conversion. 17-16 to Ulster, it was suddenly a one point game and all to play for.
Ulster knew a loss to Connacht would see them wave goodbye to a spot in the Magners league semi-finals and they began to pile on the pressure. After A knock on from Danielli right under the points you could have been forgiven for thinking that perhaps this wasn’t going to be Ulster’s night.
But they took down the Connacht pack from the resulting scrum and Humphries gladly kicked a certain three points. They now had slight breathing space with fifteen minutes left to play, Ulster 20 Connacht 16.
With six minutes to go Ulster were awarded a 5 metre scrum. Humphries played a great pass out to Cave who crossed for his second try of the night. Humphreys converted to move Ulster to 27 points.
And so it finished, Ulster 27 Connacht 16. No bonus point win for Ulster after a valiant effort from Connacht, but their hopes of landing a semi final spot are still very much alive.
Time of scorer
75 Humphries (conversion)
74 Cave (try)
65 Humphries (penalty)
51 Keatley (conversion)
50 Cronin (try)
46 Keatley (penalty)
44 Keatley (missed penalty)
40 Keatley (penalty)
32 Humphries (Conversion)
31min D’arcy (Try)
21min Keatley (missed penalty)
7min Keatley (drop goal)
6min Humphries (Conversion)
5min Best (Try)
80min Ulster win but they miss out on the bonus point. A good win though after two defeats, Connacht made life hard with their usual mix of grit and strong defence. Ulster’s experience and better attacking options made it their night, hopes of semi final place are still alive.
77min Good break by Humphries but his pass is to a green shirt.. and I had just bigged him up. Can Connacht keep Ulster out for a bonus try?
74min Collapsed scrum, Ulster put in again. good scrum, Humphries with a nice pass to Cave, thats it I reckon. Humphries converts. He’s been solid tonight with the boot and passes, Declan Kidney were you watching!!!. Pressure off now, Ulster passing it about in their own half
73 min good take from Ulster, Ulster just metres from the line, good forward play. Connacht defending well, buts its a scrum to Ulster. 7 min to go
71min Connacht offside again, this time is more dangerous, big call here for Ulster. O’Connor off with a blood injury, looks nasty. Ulster kick to touch
70min Penalty as O’Connor is offside, Fantastic kick from Pienaar into the Connacht 22
65min Danielli knocks it on with the line in sight, good ball from Pienaar/humphries but wasted. Ulster squeeze the connacht scrum, penalty to Ulster, Humphries to kick
63min Advantage over, and Ulster nearly get through but ball is held held up, 5m scrum to Ulster – Ulster’s Spence was impressive in that build up
62min Ulster on the attack , Sean Cronin was caught offside, Advantage Ulster
60min silly from Ulster as ball is knocked forward without pressure, anther scrum but in a better position right in front of the posts. Ulster defence stands still and ball is tackled into touch
58min Been all Ulster last few minute but no real threat- ball is passed forward, Connacht put in for the scrum
53min Ball off the ground, Connacht scrum, Muldoon and O’Connor doing some great work there – Jerry Cronin off, Brian Young on for Ulster
51min Its a 1 point game as Keatley converts
50min Sean Cronin with a TRY!!!, good work for Keatley, ball comes to Cronin, good pace
48min Good response from Ulster as Humphries makes it three from three in front of the posts
46min All Connacht this second half so far, from the restart Connacht won it and have applied the pressure so far. Two penalties, one that hit the post the other going over, means its 2 from 4 for Keatley and 5 points in it
40min Keatley takes us to half time with a penalty to reduce it to 8. Ulster lead but its not a comfortable lead.
37min Ulster scrum, up and under from Pienaar is knocked forward from Duffy. First scrum goes down and it reset. Thats better, Ulster were under pressure but got it out. Gilroy did well on the wing there before being tackled, we’re just outside the Connacht 22, the westeners’ are doing well defensively, despite the 2 tries
30min It been all Connacht the last few minutes as they pushed forward, Touhy is down injured at the moment. But Connacht don’t convert and lose the ball. Ulster take a fast penalty and Hunphries shows his pace, its a two on one situation and a TRY for D’arcy. Humphries converts. That a good way to respond to pressure
23min Some good connacht counter rucking gives them a break, the ball comes to carr on the wing and his pace and some poor tackling causes Ulster problems. In the end an up and under from Nathan is knocked forward and Ulster get out of jail
21min Missed penalty for Keatley, would have made things interested but he dragged it wide. Ulster on top though.
19min Excitment.. Ulster were playing the ball across the backline metres from the Connacht line but a loose pass is intercepted by Fionn Carr who breaks but is tackled brilliantly by Cave. Humphries chip through goes over the line, Connacht with the a 22
17min Poor from Keatley who kicks straight into touch, the idea was right as Danielli was out of position, poor execution though. Pienaar show’s Keatley how its done with a lovely kick to touch. Ulster on the charge
12min Ulster mean business tonight, they want a bonus try. They are running it when they can.
7min good response from Connacht who respond with a drop goal from Munster bound Ian Keatley
5min I was about to say the ball was very flat and Connacht were defending well but then Ulster breaks and the ball comes to the skipper, Best who went over the line. Humphries converts
3min Good kick into Connacht 22 by Humphries, 2 short line out’s so far, one a piece
2min opening scrum to connacht forward pass by Ulster, looked ok
1min Ian Humphries kicks us off, Ulster playing right to left. They need a win to keep their top four hopes alive after last weeks defeat.
A D’Arcy, C Gilroy, D Cave, N Spence, S Danielli, I Humphreys, R Pienaar, P McAllister, R Best, J Cronin, J Muller, D Tuohy, C Henry, W Faloon, P Wannenburg,
Gavin Duffy, Eoin Griffin, Niva Ta’auso, Troy Nathan, Fionn Carr, Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy, Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan, Michael Swift, Bernie Upton, Mike McCarthy, Johnny O’Connor, John Muldoon