Ulster remain the only unbeaten side in the PRO12 with an extremely comfortable 48 -19 win against a woeful Cardiff at the Arms Park on Friday night.
The visitors ran in seven tries in total with Williams (2), Bowe (2) Allen, Payne and Trimble all crossing the line. Jackson added five conversions and a penalty in an impressive performance from the youngster, who built on his strong performance against Munster, with a Man of the Match display.
|AS IT HAPPENED|
|00 – 05||It looks like it’s going to be a long night for Ulster as Cave fumbles the kick off and from the resultant play Cardiff are awarded a penalty. Tovey knocks it over in the 2nd minute to give the home side a 3 – 0 lead. Ulster look well out of sorts.|
|05 – 10||Ulster continue to gift Cardiff chances as Bowe overshoots a kick ahead leaving his wing clear for a counter attack. Fortunately Warburton knocks on with the line gaping. A poor clearance kick from Marshall allows Cardiff to continue to press and Trimble is caught offside. Tovey converts to put Cardiff 6 – 0 up on the 9th minute.|
|10 – 15||Ulster start to dominate the scrums and it eventually leads to a penalty chance deep in the Cardiff half. Jackson slots it over on 13 minutes to take the score to 6 – 3 and Surrey Red hand shows his approval! Nice breaks by Allen and Williams set up an Ulster counter attack and Afoa comes close. The resultant play ends with an Ulster penalty after a deliberate knock on. Ulster opt for a scrum.|
|15 – 20||After a series of infringements at the scrum, Nick Williams takes a quick tap and the ball is shipped to Allen who forces his way over the line, injuring himself in the process. Jackson converts to give Ulster a 6 – 10 lead after 16 minutes. Flat-top shows his approval in a metro-sexual hoodie! Moments later the referee gets it wrong as he awards a penalty to Cardiff for the injured Allen not retreating. Tovey slots it over to take the score to 9 – 0 as Allen is swapped out for Wallace.|
|20 – 25||Cardiff are very poor and don’t look that interested as Ulster continue to dominate through the scrum and lineout.|
|25 – 30||Plenty of possession for Ulster but not much happening. It takes a mix up at the back of an Ulster scrum to wrong foot the Cardiff defence and Williams breaks to feed Henderson and the chubby New Zealander is on hand to collect the return and power over for Ulster’s second try. Jackson converts on the 30th minute and Ulster lead 9 – 17.|
|30 – 35||The game is packed full of mistakes but Ulster seem to be getting the luck of the bounce and their scum continues to dominate. Cardiff are a mess and Ulster can add the breakdown to their areas of dominance with Henderson prominent. Both sides look to have abandoned any pretence of a game plan.|
|35 – 40||Cardiff enjoy a good period but Ulster eventually turn over the ball and Payne kicks clear. Tovey is injured for Cardiff and replaced by Davis. Cardiff enjoy a good period of possession but Ulster ride their luck to close out the half without further score. The teams turn round with the scoreboard reading Cardiff 9 Ulster 17.|
|HT: CARDIFF 9 ULSTER 17|
|40 – 45||Second half starts where the first half left off. It’s all a bit scrappy but Cardiff look to be playing with a bit more intent.|
|45 – 50||A Cardiff attack ends with a penalty and Davis slots it over to take the score to 12 – 17 on the 47th minute. Ulster respond immediately and a fantastic pass under pressure from Jackson allows Payne to release Bowe for the schoolgirls favourite to score his first try of the night. Jackson hooks the conversion well wide but Ulster look comfortable at 12 – 22 after 48 minutes.|
|50 – 55||Cardiff try to attack but Ulster are all over them. Jackson misses a long penalty but Cardiff look to be losing interest in this game. Payne kicks off Ulster’s points rush with an individual kick and chase to gather and touch down after some tragic defence. Jackson converts and Ulster have the game won at 12 – 29 after 53 minutes. It’s put beyond all doubt when Bowe goes over a minute later for his second try. Jackson converts to take the score to 12 -34.|
|55 – 60||Ulster take a breather after scoring the bonus point try and Cardiff take advantage to spend a sustained period of time in the Ulster half.|
|60 – 65||Cardiff’s patience finally pays off and they work an overlap for Robinson to go over in the corner. Davis slots over the conversion and the score moves along to 19 – 34 on the 61st minute. Ulster respond by bringing on McComish and Gilroy for Henderson and Bowe.|
|65 – 70||A fantastic break by Gilroy sets up Ulster’s 6th try with the effusive Williams being the chosen one in a four man overlap to finish it off. Jackson converts and with the score reading Cardiff 19 Ulster 41 after 67 minutes it’s beyond embarrassing for the Welsh side. Ulster slip on Herring, Black, Heaney and Stevenson for Brady, Court, Marshall and McComb.|
|70 – 75||Cardiff go for a last hurrah but the Ulster defence holds out comfortably. As Cardiff press Ulster slip on Macklin for Afoa.|
|75 – 80||A turn over by Ulster eventually sees Heaney kick clear for Trimble to clear. Ulster ride their luck to the last with the ball breaking for the Ulster Winger to pick up and stroll under the posts. Jackson converts and the only interest now is if Ulster will break the 50pts barrier. They get a chance with a penalty for the last kick of the game but Jackson pushes it wide to leave the final score at Cardiff 19 Ulster 48.|
|FT: CARDIFF 19 ULSTER 48|
Ulster: Jared Payne, Tommy Bowe, Michael Allen, Darren Cave, Andrew Trimble, Patrick Jackson, Paul Marshall, Tom Court, Nigel Brady, John Afoa, Neil McComb, Dan Tuohy, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry (c), Nick Williams. Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Adam Macklin, Lewis Stevenson , Mike McComish, Michael Heaney, Paddy Wallace, Craig Gilroy.
Cardiff: Dan Fish, Harry Robinson, Dafydd Hewitt, Jamie Roberts, Tom James, Jason Tovey, Lloyd Williams, Andries Pretorius (c), Sam Warburton, Robin Copeland, James Down, Bradley Davies, Taufa’ao Filise, Andi Kyriacou, Nathan Trevett. Replacements: Rhys Williams, Campese Ma’afu, Scott Andrews, Lou Reed, Rory Watts-Jones, Rob Lewis, Gareth Davies, Tom Williams.
This game reminded me of Ulster’s 37 – 11 hammering of Munster in Thomond a few years back. Ulster certainly had the rub of the green on that night and there was a fair bit of luck in last nights encounter with almost every bounce of the ball going Ulster’s way. Where Ian Humphreys was Ulsters hero on the night in Thomond last night’s fragile genius was Nick Williams with the portly Kiwi mixing the sublime with the ridiculous in an entertaining 80 minute display!
The churlish amongst us could claim that while Williams scored two tries he cost Ulster three more but, as with Humphreys, it was just great to see someone play with such uninhibited joy for the full 80 minutes, especially after the tragedies of recent weeks. No doubt he’ll be caught out as the season goes on and the stakes get higher and, like Humphreys, he will divide the supporters, but I always like to see someone who is prepared to try something different! Having said that I can’t wait to see Wilson at the back of such a dominant scrum.
Yep, the scrum won this game and such was their dominance that Cardiff knew they were beaten after 12 minutes when Ulster destroyed the Cardiff pack. My Man of the Match, Paddy Jackson, contributed with an almost faultless display in attack and defence. His tackling has always been superb and we sometimes overlook it as a given these days but those were huge units he was chopping down and while, up to the last game against Munster, young Jacko was there to move the ball on and shore up his channel I was pleased to see that he’s now playing with the confidence and the ability to control the game.
It was more than a competent display from the youngster, nearly every pass put something on the ball with the accuracy taking out defenders and the pace giving the centres, or the oncoming Payne, time and space to create. He must be a joy to play outside and his last two performances bode well for the remainder of the season.
Ulster’s season fell apart after their trip to Thomond but it’s not going to happen after this one as Ulster’s luck came from their dominance up front and I think it’s the sort of luck we can count on in a few more matches this season.