Leinster’s Max Deegan and Scott Penny both scored a brace of tries to add to five-pointers from Robbie Henshaw, Fergus McFadden, Cian Kelleher and Rob Kearney to wrap-up a comprehensive victory.
Leinster had the perfect start to the game as Deegan scored the opening try of the night when he powered over from close range after just over three-minutes. Harry Byrne sent the conversion between the posts to make it 7-0.
Ulster came flying back and were camped in the Leinster 22, as the home side conceded penalty after penalty, with the visitors refusing to take the three-points from a kickable position.
They were rewarded for their patience when they spread the ball wide to winger Angus Kernohan from a scrum and he bolted over the line to touch-down. Bill Johnston sent over a lovely conversion to level the scores with 10 minutes on the clock.
However, just as Ulster had done, Leinster hit back right after the restart and held onto the ball for the next five minutes, edging closer and closer to the try-line, before eventually flanker Penny drove over for his team’s second try. Byrne made it two from two from the tee to make it 14-7.
Things got worse for the northern province heading towards the end of the first quarter as centre Matt Faddes was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Leinster debutant Tommy O’Brien.
Leinster took full advantage of the extra man and had their third try with 23-minutes on the clock as they powered forward, going through the phases before Penny again pushed over the line from close-range. Byrne smashed the extras over from the right-hand side of the posts to stretch the lead to 21-7, with Ulster full-back Rob Lyttle going off injured following the kick.
The home side had the bonus-point wrapped up before the half-hour mark as they took the ball up the field before Byrne chipped a perfectly weighted ball over to the right side of the pitch to Henshaw, who collected and strolled over for the fourth try. Byrne slotted a brilliant kick over from the right-touchline.
Ulster got another try on the board when Deegan sent a poor pass to Jamison Gibson-Park from a scrum near half-way and from there Faddes picked up the loose ball, sprinting forward and out-running the Leinster defence to score. Johnston hit the extras to cut Leinster’s lead to 28-14 with 36-minutes gone.
Although it was Leinster that had the last laugh of the half as Byrne showed some fantastic dancing feet to break through the opposition defence, before getting tapped to the ground, but got the pop-pass away. From there McFadden had the easy task of picking the ball up from a ruck in front of the try-line and bursting over. Byrne couldn’t add the extra two, but the hosts went in 33-14 up at the half-time whistle.
Leinster started where they left off in the first-half at the opening of the second-half, as they burst into the Ulster half before Byrne sent a long-pass out to Kearney, who stepped inside from the right-wing and barrelled over for the try. Byrne made no mistake with the kick to make it 40-14 with only five-minutes gone in the second-half.
Four-minutes later and they had their seventh try as McFadden showed some brilliant vision and skill as he took a quick penalty in his own half, kicking the ball from the right-wing to the left. Henshaw plucked the ball out of the sky and sent the ball left to Kelleher, who raced forward to score his try. Byrne made it six kicks from seven making it 47-14 with half and hour to go.
Ulster got a lucky third-try of the game as they approached the hour-mark, as Penny sent a loose pass toward the left-wing which Craig Gilroy intercepted and bolted over the line. Johnston again scored the conversion to make it 47-21.
With 63-minutes on the clock Leinster were in once again as Deegan picked from the back of a scrum and charged under the posts for his second try of the night. Byrne converted once more.
The scoring continued as the away side went over through Greg Jones which secured a bonus-point for them. Johnston maintained his 100% record from the tee with his fourth conversion of the game to make it 54-28.
Ulster’s fight-back continued as Jones went over for another try with eight minutes left. Johnston kicked a brilliant conversion from the left of the posts to cut into the lead late on.
Josh Murphy was shown a yellow-card after an accumulation of penalties from the home side in the final minute. From the resulting scrum replacement scrum-half darted over for his side’s sixth try of the game. Johnston converted with the final kick of the match to leave it at 54-42.
The win pushes Leinster further ahead at the top of Conference A with eight wins from eight in the PRO14, while Ulster will be encouraged by their late rally from their youngsters. Next up for Leinster is a trip to Munster on December 28th, while Ulster face Connacht the day before as they continue the inter-provincial derbies over the Christmas period.
Leinster Starting XV:
Rob Kearney (7), Fergus McFadden (8), Tommy O’Brien (7), Robbie Henshaw (8), Cian Kelleher (7), Harry Byrne (9), Jamison Gibson-Park (7); Peter Dooley (7), Sean Cronin (7), Andrew Porter (7), Scott Fardy (7), Josh Murphy (8), Will Connors (7), Scott Penny (9), Max Deegan (9)
Ulster Starting XV:
Rob Lyttle (5), Craig Gilroy (7), Matt Faddes (6), Angus Curtis (6), Angus Kernohan (6), Bill Johnston (7), David Shanahan (7); Andrew Warwick (6), Adam McBurney (6), Tom O’Toole (7), David O’Connor (6), Alan O’Connor (6), Matthew Rea (6), Nick Timoney (7), Greg Jones (7)
Dan McFarland extends stay with Ulster for a further two years
Ulster Rugby Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has renewed his commitment to the province by signing a new two-year contract extension.
Since joining the club in August 2018, Ulster has regularly competed at the knock-out stages of both the Guinness PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup, including at the most recent Guinness PRO14 final – a first for the province in seven years.
Of his contract renewal, Dan McFarland, said:
“I’m delighted to be signing again with Ulster. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two and a half years working and learning with some really good people, and I’m looking forward to continuing to help drive on our improvement as a group and as individuals.
“As a group, we are extremely ambitious in our aim to be consistently competing for championships. With exciting young talent continuing to emerge out of our Academy system, joining forces with the proven talent within our squad – many of whom have been recently recognised at international level – I look forward to what the weeks and months ahead hold as we take on our next challenges in the domestic league and in Europe this season.”
Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, added:
“I’m extremely pleased to see Dan extend his commitment to Ulster Rugby, giving us the opportunity to continue to build on the fantastic work that he has done in his time here so far.
“It is plain to see, both on and off the field of play, the ethos that he has instilled in the group, and that is being borne out both in our performances and our results – a team of which the people of Ulster can be rightly and fiercely proud.
“I’m looking forward to working with Dan in the coming years, to see where we can take this. It’s an exciting prospect.”
Ulster & Leinster announce teams for huge Inter-Pro Clash
The team sees six changes to the side that defeated Munster at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday. Michael Lowry comes in to start at full-back and is joined on the wings by Matt Faddes and last weekend’s Player-of-the-Match, Ethan McIlroy. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will form the midfield duo, and in the half-backs, John Cooney will partner Billy Burns.
Andrew Warwick and Marty Moore are named at loosehead and tighthead prop, with Rob Herring completing the front row at hooker. Alan O’Connor comes in to pair with captain Sam Carter in the second row. Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee make up the starting back row forwards.
John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Nick Timoney will provide forward reinforcements off the bench. David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham will offer back line cover.
Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 11, Friday 8 January at the RDS Arena (kick-off 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):
(15-9) Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney.
(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.
The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby in the RDS Arena in Round 11 of the Guinness PRO14 has been announced by Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm live on eir Sport and RTÉ Radio).
Johnny Sexton will captain the team as a number of players return from injury for the top of Conference A clash.
Hugo Keenan is selected at full back with Jordan Larmour back after a shoulder injury to start on the right wing and Dave Kearney selected on the left.
Robbie Henshaw starts in the inside centre jersey with Ross Byrne starting outside him in the number 13 jersey for the first time in his Leinster senior career.
In the half-backs, Jamison Gibson-Park is joined by captain Johnny Sexton.
Cian Healy starts at loosehead prop with Andrew Porter at tighthead, while Seán Cronin makes his first start of the season at hooker after recovering from a thumb injury.
Former Australian international Scott Fardy is joined by James Ryan in the second row while, in the back row, fit-again Rhys Ruddock starts with Josh van der Flier at openside and Caelan Doris at number eight.
On the bench, Harry Byrne returns from a back injury picked up in the warm-up before the Northampton Saints game.
Team News from Ulster Rugby & Leinster Rugby
Ulster to welcome 1,000 fans for Scarlets clash
Ulster Rugby last night announced that 1,000 supporters will be welcomed to the Kingspan Stadium this weekend. Statement from Ulster Rugby below:
The Ulster Men have played behind closed doors since the opening game of the season against Benetton Rugby when the club successfully trialled the safe return of spectators following extensive consultation with the IRFU, Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Executive.
All 500 pairs of tickets will be made available to #TogetherUlster Members only via an online ballot process. Members who applied for tickets to the Benetton match but missed out due to limited availability will receive priority in the ballot.
Sunday night’s match will feature a mix of seating and terracing in operation across all four stands and the East Terrace. Tickets are again priced at £20 each, allocated in groups of two with two-metre physical distancing factored in.
The online ballot will be open for 24 hours from 1pm on Tuesday 17 November on the Ulster Rugby Ticket Account Manager, and account holders can apply for one pair of tickets per every Adult #TogetherUlster Membership held. All successful applicants will be notified on Wednesday evening once the ballot has closed and tickets have been allocated. Members will then have until 1pm on Thursday 19 November to confirm their ticket purchase and process payment.