Ulster got their Guinness PRO14 campaign underway on Friday evening against the Ospreys in Belfast. Ulster gave new summer singings, Sam Carter, Matt Faddes and Jack McGrath their debuts but were forced into a late change with Jordi Murphy being withdrawn just before kick-off as a precaution for Jack Conan who has picked up a foot injury in Japan. Greg Jones came into the side starting at 8 with Clive Ross taking his spot on the bench.
Ospreys got the first points of the evening after an Ulster infringement allowed Luke Price to have an easy shot at goal. It wasn’t long until they were back on the scoreboard after a great try from Ospreys Full-Back Dan Evans. A quick snap from Aubrey to Price caught the Ulster inside defence out with Dan Evans running a great inside line bursting through the line untouched, still with a lot to do Evans feinted inside turning Lyttle’s shoulders before taking the outside, Lyttle caught Evans just shy of the line but the Ospreys veteran just did enough to touch down for the unconverted try.
Ulster were offered their first points of the evening after the Ospreys gave away a breakdown penalty following a strong carry and off-load from James Hume. Cooney pushed his attempt wide of the right post leaving the Ospreys ahead on the scoreboard by 8.
Ulster shortly made their way back into the Ospreys 22 with an attacking line-out providing a good platform for the Ulster backline to launch from. With the Ulster pack rumbling forward, the ball came loose but was fed to Ulster Out-Half who dinked the ball wide with a flat cross-field kick that was gathered after one bounce by returning winger Craig Gilroy. Cooney after missing a relatively simple penalty only minutes earlier made it a 7-pointer with the ball clearing the bar via the left upright narrowing the Ospreys lead to just 1 point. 7-8.
Ospreys increased their lead further with Luke Price landing a 50m penalty for the Welsh side after Greg Jones was judged to have held on in the contact.
With it being the first game of the season, handling errors were plentiful for both sides but Ulster certainly looked the more dangerous when in possession. Billie Burns successfully found Rob Lyttle with another beautiful dinked cross-field. Lyttle showed great strength and pace but perhaps had the option to feed new signing Matt Faddes with a simple 2 v 1 but opted to go himself only to be hauled down short of the line. Cooney had a dart from close range but was held up. Thankfully for Ulster, Ospreys winger Luke Morgan was off-side, yellow carded and the Ulster pack were given another bash at the try line off a driving maul. After several phases, Greg Jones got across the line for a converted try with Ulster taking a 14-11 lead.
Ospreys lost lock, James king to injury just prior to half time, Baker replaced him making his first competitive appearance in almost 2 years following a horror injury. 2 penalties in quick succession from Ulster gave the Ospreys territory and a chance to draw level. Luke Price again converting.
On the stroke of half-time Ulster regained the lead. John Cooney could easily have been judged to have played the Ospreys 9 but the ref waved play-on and a strong Ulster counter attack that included another strong carry from James Hume followed by a quick pick from Rob Lyttle saw Ulster stretch the Ospreys defence. Quick ball allowed the ball to come wide to Craig Gilroy who turned from scorer to provider with a skip pass to Matt Faddes who finished well in the corner on debut. Cooney nailed the touchline conversion to send Ulster in at half-time 21-14 up.
HT – Ulster 21 – 14 Ospreys.
The 2nd-half started off a little duller than the first, literally, with one set of floodlights failing. Cooney was on-hand shortly into the 2nd-half to extend the Ulster lead with another penalty and it wasn’t long until Ulster secured their bonus point.
Faddes and Lyttle linked up well on several occasions before Burns was given another opportunity to drop it onto the foot for another cross-field for Gilroy. This time he collected it on the full, scoring the bonus point try under the posts giving Cooney an easy conversion.
With the bonus point in the bag, Burns was withdrawn with the lively Michael Lowry coming on at Out-Half. Ulster continued to pin back the Ospreys with Lowry and Faddes putting the pull in behind the Ospreys defence on several occasions.
Ulster continued to dominate possession and territory throughout the second half but it wasn’t until the 70th minute before the scoreboard was moved again. Debutant Faddes picked up a loose kick and glided through the Osprey defence linking up again with the dangerous Lyttle. He chipped over the remaining defenders and as he was about to stretch out to touch down the bouncing ball, Ospreys winger, Morgan was adjudged to have played him without the ball by the TMO. Controversially Ulster were awarded a penalty try and Morgan was given his second yellow card of the game.
Ospreys finished the game by finally playing some rugby in the Ulster 22. After several phases they eventually got across the try line but after a TMO review it was adjudged that the line breaking pass was forward.
FT – Ulster 38 – 14 Ospreys.
A very positive opening performance from Ulster to kick off their season. New signings Carter, McGrath and Faddes all impressed, especially Faddes who combined well with Rob Lyttle on several occasions. Ulster fans will also be glad to see Craig Gilroy return to action after a long spell on the sidelines. Other impressive performances came from young centre, James Hume who looked dangerous in attack with several strong carries. Mike Lowry looked a threat every time he touched the ball and Sean Reidy put in a huge shift with 16 tackles. Rob Lyttle got special praise from Ulster Head coach Dan McFarland in the post-match press conference, not just for his continual attacking threat but also for his defensive display and his fight and willingness to keep the ball alive.
Man of the Match was awarded to Billie Burns. Despite only playing 50 minutes he had a huge influence in the game with 3 pinpoint cross-field kicks, 2 of which directly resulted in tries and another which ultimately led to a try being scored just a few phases later. He spoke with Premier Sports post-game.
Ulster head to South Africa on Tuesday for their next round of PRO14 Fixtures where they will face the Cheetahs and Southern Kings. McFarland is planning on taking a 28-man squad to South Africa which could include Springbok Marcel Coetzee who is on track to make a faster than expected return from injury. Coetzee suffered a syndesmosis injury and had surgery just 5 weeks ago but is hoping to be back in action within the next 2-3 weeks. Stuart McCloskey has picked up a ‘lower limb’ injury and will be doubtful to make the trip.
Squad Update | Team News Ahead Of Zebre At Musgrave Park
The Munster squad returned to training at the HPC today (Tuesday) ahead of Saturday’s BKT United Rugby Championship round 3 game against Zebre at Musgrave Park (5.05pm).
Buy match tickets here.
Nine Munster players are in Bloemfontein with Emerging Ireland: Thomas Ahern, Diarmuid Barron, Jack Crowley, Shane Daly, Antoine Frisch, John Hodnett, Calvin Nash, Roman Salanoa and Josh Wycherley.
As confirmed by the IRFU at the weekend, Alex Kendellen has been ruled out of the Emerging Ireland tour and will complete his return-to-play protocols.
Injury Update in association with Laya Healthcare
Jean Kleyn sustained a concussion against Dragons on Sunday and will follow the graduated return-to-play protocols.
Peter O’Mahony (ankle) is expected to return to training later this week.
Keith Earls was removed with a suspected hamstring injury. He will be further assessed by the medical team this week.
In a positive update, Rory Scannell (nose) will return to squad training this week.
Unavailable: Gavin Coombes (groin), RG Snyman (knee), Jack Daly (knee), Andrew Conway (knee).
Images & Content from Munster Rugby
Additional terracing confirmed for October interpros
Following huge demand for tickets, Connacht Rugby can confirm that temporary terracing will be installed for both BKT United Rugby Championship interpros against Munster and Leinster next month.
The game against Munster on Friday 7th October is set to be a momentous occasion as the club plays its first fixture on the new state-of-the-art, artificial surface.
Just seven days later neighbours Leinster visit the West of Ireland, in what will be another crucial game in the context of the overall season.
The terraces will be located at the Bohermore and College Road ends of the ground, bringing the capacity of The Sportsground up to 8,129.
Tickets for both games are on sale now at connachtrugby.ie/tickets, and supporters are urged to act quickly to avoid disappointment.
We are also now offering our fans a special October Interpros bundle. This bundle will guarantee your place in The Sportsground for these can’t-miss October games.
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
Academy Update | September 2022
We spoke to Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Manager Ian Costello last week for the first update of the new season from the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy.
New recruits Fionn Gibbons, Darragh McSweeney, Evan O’Connell, Jack Oliver, Ruadhan Quinn and Kieran Ryan have all hit the ground running and seen game-time at various levels over the past number of weeks.
19-year-old second year Academy member and UCC clubman Edwin Edogbo made his senior debut against Dragons on Sunday becoming the first Cobh Pirates player to line out for Munster in the professional era. Edwin missed all of last year due to an achilles injury but impressed in pre-season and was rewarded with a debut in Wales.
Hear the latest from Costello below.
Munster A v Connacht A last week…
“It was a good run-out. They had played a game the week before and our game against Ulster had been cancelled so they were a bit more clinical.
“We dominated possession and territory but they were more accurate, we were a little bit rusty at key times but it was a good exercise overall.”
“Kieran Ryan and Darragh McSweeney, the two props, are getting on really well. Ruadhan Quinn obviously hit the ground running with 78 minutes against Gloucester in pre-season, which was great for him to get a senior run-out. Evan O’Connell was released back to the Munster U19s and he played the Interpros with them and they won two out of three.
“Jack Oliver played his first game for Munster in a long time against Connacht A and he had a club run-out with Garryowen the week before. It was his first time playing in seven months so it was great to have him back as well. Fionn Gibbons had his first run-out since joining us against Connacht too.”
Academy players Tony Butler, Edwin Edogbo, Cian Hurley, Daniel Okeke, Conor Phillips getting game-time in pre-season games…
“It’s fantastic. And to have so many players away with Emerging Ireland now, it gives our lads the chance to push for a squad spot in the URC for the next three games.
“We’ll be stretched a bit at senior level with the 10 guys selected for Emerging Ireland so we’d be hopeful there will be a couple of Academy players in the mix over the next couple of weeks and anyone who isn’t in the mix will be playing with their club.
“On the injury front, Patrick Campbell (toe) was injured with the Ireland U20s over the summer and he’s a couple of weeks away.
“Daniel Okeke tweaked his hamstring in the A game last weekend so hopefully he won’t be out for too long.”
AIL season kicking off this weekend…
“The players will all go back to their clubs this week and hopefully the majority of the lads will be playing in AIL round one, if they’re not involved in the URC.
“We have been drip-feeding the lads back with their clubs so a number of guys have been training with their clubs over the last few Tuesdays so we try to keep them connected to their club as much as possible.”
Summer training camps for underage sides…
“We had a residential camp in UL over the summer. We put a lot of time, effort and resources into a three-week residential camp. We brought 15 under-20 players to train with the U19s. The U20s don’t have an Interprovincial tournament so they’re essentially the guys we’re looking at to move onto the next level. Guys like Daniel Hurley trained with them, he’s back from a cruciate injury, Shay McCarthy who had gone away with the Ireland U20s…these are the kind of guys we’re looking at long-term as well.
“We brought that group of 15 to train with 30 U19s so that was class. Off the back of those training camps, the Munster U18s won the Interpros, the U19s won two out of three so there’s a lot of good players emerging out of that and it was good to validate it with winning an Interpro as well.”
Images & Content from Munster Rugby
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