Chris Cochrane slides in for Ulster’s equalising try. Picture Darren Kidd|PressEye

[wptabs mode=”horizontal”] [wptabtitle]Report[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]Ulster’s youngsters stormed back to snatch a 14 – 14 draw in this entertaining friendly against Leicester at Ravenhill, Chris Cochrane sliding in under the posts to score the equalising try late in the second half. The home side nearly snatched the winner after a jinking run  from Peter Nelson, but, with the youngster bundled into touch just short of the line, the draw was a fair result in a vigorous enough game that never really hit full intensity.

I’d had my worries before the game that the back row of Diack, Birch and Williams would struggle to cope with their Leicester counterparts but the Ulster players more than held their own. Robbie Diack was particularly impressive, being one of only two players to play the full 80 minutes, and the South African appears to have taken up where he left off last season, continuing to add a harder edge to his game with a man of the match performance.

Chris Farrell, the only other player to feature for the full 80, was the pick of the young backline, though a lovely cameo from Peter Nelson in the final quarter certainly caught the eye.

Pleasingly the two players under most pressure from the fickle supporters, Nick Williams and Niall O’Connor, both had solid games with O’Connor looking particularly impressive, showcasing some huge kicks in his, wind assisted, first half performance. Williams looked busy throughout but he did noticeably tire, before being swapped out at the break.

Ulster opened the scoring on the 27th minute with a penalty try. John Afoa came on for Declan Fitzpatrick, no  doubt ordered to be kept fit by the IRFU, and the big New Zealander had an immediate effect as the Ulster scrum pushed the Leicester pack back at a rate of knots towards their ow line. Clancy, no doubt wanting to make up for past indiscretions against Ulster, immediately awarded the penalty try as the Leicester front row popped up and Niall O’Connor had the easiest of kicks to open his points tally.

The home side dominated the remainder of the half but neither side came close to troubling the scoreboard.

Leicester enjoyed the bulk of the second half as both sides made numerous changes. Ulster brought on Ricky Lutton, Mike McComish, Neil McComb, Sean Doyle and Paddy Jackson at the break and added Blane McIlroy, Rob Herring, Adam Macklin,  Stuart Olding, Ricky Andrews and Peter Nelson throughout the second half. With the changes adding a degree of instability it looked like Leicester  were going to record their first win at Ravenhill when first Goneva and then Waldron went over for tries mid way through the second half.

Ulster, to their credit, refused to give up and with three minutes left on the clock Chris Cochrane sliced through the Tigers defence to score under the posts. Jackson added the extras to tie the game.

Nelson almost stole the game with a scintillating run down the right wing but with the youngster bundled into touch just short of the line the games ended with honours even.

Ulster: Jared Payne, Chris Cochrane, Chris Farrell, Luke Marshall, Michael Allen, Niall O’Connor, Michael Heaney, Callum Black, Nigel Brady, Declan Fitzpatrick, Johann Muller (c), Lewis Stevenson, Robbie Diack, Ali Birch, Nick Williams. Replacements: Ricky Lutton, Rob Herring, Niall Annett, John Afoa, Adam Macklin, Neil McComb, Mike McComish, Sean Doyle, Blane McIlroy, Patrick Jackson, Stuart Olding, Ricky Andrews, Peter Nelson.

Leicester: G Murphy (c), S Hamilton, M Tuilagi, A Allen, V Goniva,  T Flood, M Young, M Castrogiovanni, T Youngs, D Cole, S Mafi, G Parling, B Deacon, J Salvi, T Waldrom. Replacements: R Hawkins, G Chuter, F Balmain, K Brookes, R Bower, J Cain, R Thorpe, H Wells, J Crane, P Phibbs, S Harrison, G Ford, N Morris, M Smith, A Symons, A Lewington[/wptabcontent] [wptabtitle]Video[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]If you missed the game or want to refresh your memory you can watch highlights from the BBC here.

Well done them! [/wptabcontent] [wptabtitle post=”24566″]Preview[/wptabtitle] [/wptabs]

2 Comments

  1. The Ulster pack had a fair amount of experience and the back row a mix of pace and muscle (bulk anyway )

    NoC showed he could still kick a ball a good distance but we all know I wanted to see if had developed his game beyond that – I still don’t know

    Diack I have always consider a good player but not the best ball carrier.

    As a pre-season work out and an opportunity for Anscombe to assess his second string and future potential it was a successful game nothing more nothing less the fact that both sides never took a penalty kick at the posts is a reasonable indication that the result was not considered the most important priority. Given the nature of the XVs on the field I would conclude that the moment Leicester have more problems to sort out than Ulster.

  2. When I saw the youthful Ulster team lining up against a fairlyl full strength Leicester team, I thought that it was going to be at least +30 points for the tigers. However cerdit to the Ulster young guns they took the game to the tigers with the scrum working well against a very experienced tigers scrum. Big Robbie had a great game showing the potential we all knew he had but had kept it hidden until the tailend of last season. NOC had a steady game on his return to the fortress, Marshall & Farrell combined well in the centre and as you rightly say John, young Chris edged it from all the backs on show. Neil McComb has certainly beefed up andwill be interesting to see if he gets some serious game time. Roll on Friday night til we get to see some more.