Ulster came out firing on all cylinders but in the end they misfired and were done over by a competent Edinburgh side eventually losing this Ravenhill encounter 13 – 16.
There was plenty of power and passion from the red hand men but failure to rack up points, despite huge territorial and positional advantages, allowed the Scotties to hang on by their fingernails and then stick in the knife in the second half.
If Ulster had won this game we would all have been raving about a great performance. The first twenty minutes were immense as Ulster battered and smashed at the Edinburgh defences and in truth two unconverted tries, from Ferris and Schifcofske, were scant reward for such dominance. In fact during this period Ulster could have bagged the bonus point if passes to Danielli and Nagusa had went to hand.
However when Edinburgh scored a converted try in, what seemed like, their only visit into Ulster’s half things began to look a bit ominous as the 10 – 7 score line did not reflect the play we had seen. Ulster continued to press for the remainder of the half but a Humphreys penalty was scant reward for their hard work.
I stated at half time that Ulster needed to drive the ball up the middle for a few more phases to tie in the Edinburgh defence but unfortunately when Ulster roared out again at the start of the second half they were still determined to move the ball on the third phase allowing the habitually offside Edinburgh defence to fan out and stifle move after move.
Unfortunately things didn’t change when Humphreys, who was having a great game with ball in hand and his positional covering, was replaced by Wallace. Now I think Paddy is a brilliant player and a real match winner, but I’m afraid his skills lie at centre, not at out half. He needs to be somewhere where his natural exuberance and risk taking is curtailed and inside centre is his natural home.
Paddy’s introduction coincided with Edinburgh bringing on Mike Blair and Blair’s trademark sniping play started to cause Ulster problems which eventually resulted with Wallace being binned for a trip on the Lions scrumhalf.
Ulster’s forwards fought valiantly to wind down the sin bin but with Blair and Godman beginning to pull the strings a sense of inevitability began to fall over the raucous Ravenhill crowd. The misery was compounded as Patterson picked up the points with sniper like precision and once Edinburgh inched in front Ulster lost all composure with subs Trimble and Houra adding little.
The game made a lie of that old stalwart “Forwards win matches, backs decide by how much” for I’m sure the Edinburgh pack have never been so completely outplayed, in all phases, and still managed to walk away with a win. There will be plenty of finger pointing at Ulster’s kickers, but I take a great deal of comfort from the fact that Ulster were by far the better team and will continue to get better whereas Edinburgh were playing at the limit of their ability and scraped the win thanks to the unerring accuracy of Patterson.
The management team hopefully have learnt a hard lesson and in my opinion they got lot of their calls wrong.
Humphreys should have stayed on longer.
Wallace should concentrate on playing centre.
Henry came off to early and he should have been replaced by Diack not Houra who should have been coming on for an exhausted Ferris.
Trimble should be on the wing until he gets some form back as he was completely lost in the centre.
Early days, but I’ll stick my neck out and predict that Ulster will finish above Edinburgh in the League and Heineken group. Should make things interesting!
We are pleased to announce that this seasons Man of the Match and Player of the Year polls are sponsored by Leaf Properties Lanzarote.
Here’s Our Ratings in The Headmasters Report!
|15. Clinton Schifcofske||Played well at full back and good support for his try. Doesn’t have the out and out pace for the wing||B|
|14. Timoci Nagusa||All credit to Jimmy, has improved in every game this season and has worked hard on his defence.||B+|
|13. Darren Cave||Another outstanding defensive game from young Darren. Making this position his own.||B|
|12. Ian Whitten||His best game to date but is running across the pitch a little too much.||B-|
|11. Simon Danielli||Hungry, hungry throughout the game put in a hell of a lot of work. Only his hands let him down.||B+|
|10. Ian Humphreys||Excellent with ball in hand, has made great strides defensively and his covering work was of the highest order. Unfortunately place kicking struggles.||B+|
|9. Isaac Boss||Another excellent display from Isaac. His defence is immense but he needs to snipe round the edges more.||B+|
|1. Bryan Young||Part of an impressive front row that destroyed their opponents. Getting back to his best.||B+|
|2. Andy Kyriacou||Starting to slot in nicely and covered a lot of ground. i would be happier if he bulked up a bit.||B|
|3. BJ Botha||Starting to look like the player we all thought he was going to be. Destroyed his opponents.||B+|
|4. Ed O’Donoghue||Colossal effort from Ed. A real Ulsterman now, he’s emerging as a real leader in the pack.||A-|
|5. Neil McComb||A colossal effort in the first half and just kept going by will power alone in the second. Should be brought into the squad.||B|
|6. Stephen Ferris||A welcome return for the beast. Pushed himself to exhaustion in a fiery back row.||B+|
|7. Willie Faloon||Absolutely huge performance from the youngster. Stand out player in a stand out back row.||A|
|8. Chris Henry||Captained well, played well and a mystery why he was taken off so early.||B+|
|16. Nigel Brady||A very solid performance when he came of in the second half. Keeping Kyri on his toes.||B|
|17. Declan Fitzpatrick||Didn’t make as big an impact as he has in the last couple of games but still did well.||B|
|18. Tamaiti Houra||Hasn’t made the impact I’ve been hoping for as yet but it’s very early days.||C|
|19. Robbie Diack||Disappointed he didn’t get a longer run out. Showed his class in his brief cameo.||B|
|20. Cillian Willis||Only a brief appearance at the end. Didn’t get a chance to shine.||C|
|21. Paddy Wallace||One he’ll want to forget though it was a shocking decision for his binning. Needs to concentration on centre.||C-|
|22. Andrew Trimble||Unfortunately a poor performance from Andrew. Needs game time on the wing.||D|
B Good performances, let down by returning senior players and inappropriate substitutions.