Ulster out-fought and out-thought their classy opponents to come away with a comfortable win at rain soaked Ravenhill on Saturday night. It’s a win that sees Ulster move to the top of the Magners League to mark a spectacular start to Brian McLaughlin’s professional coaching career.
Unfortunately the score line does not reflect Ulster’s complete dominance of this game against a strong Leinster side who struggled to cope with the elements and Ulster’s forwards onslaught.
Quite simply Ulster wanted this win more and from the off the forwards showed more passion and control at the breakdown to limit supply to the D4 golden boys. Faloon and Henry were immense with Faloon smashing O’Driscoll at every opportunity and Henry completely outplaying Lions star Heaslip, who had little chance to show his skills in the difficult conditions.
Ulster’s front five also stepped up to mark. Botha is just getting better and better this season and Brady and Court both put down big markers ahead of next weeks Irish squad announcements. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how the call for Ireland hooker goes with Brady and Kyriacou both being the form players at the moment.
The second row partnership performed well, with Tuohy’s pace an exciting asset and Caldwell did exceptionally well controlling the line outs much more effectively than his opponents. It was also very pleasing to see that he refused to respond to any baiting from Hines, producing a very controlled performance.
Houra will be pleased to have got that game under his belt and he certainly put in a lot of the donkey work to allow Faloon and Henry to rampage.
However, it was Ulster’s half backs that won the game with their superior game plan and clinical finishing. Boss bossed the breakdowns pushing and pulling the pack into position time after time and took his break exceptionally well when the chance came and Humphreys gave a master class in kicking from hand and tee with a performance that should give Kidney a few selection headaches over the next couple of weeks.
On the down side, Ulster did ship a couple of soft tries, with the defence being drawn to O’Driscoll for the first and Jim getting over involved and turned over in the ruck leading up to the second. However I’m sure these slips were noted by the coaching team.
Roll on Munster. Another win in Turnipstan should make things very interesting indeed!
Who was your Man of the Match?