Cardiff Blues Premier Select (17) 27
TRY: Cam Dolan, Gareth Thompson, Ben Jones. CON: Gareth Thompson (3). PEN: Gareth Thompson (2).
Ulster A (13) 30
TRY: Lorcan Dow, Brett Herron, Philip Cooper. CON: Johnny McPhillips (3). PEN: Johnny McPhillips (3).

Ulster A continued their positive progression in the British and Irish Cup with a 30 – 27 win against Cardiff Blues in Pontypridd on Saturday afternoon. 

We were down in Galway for the Ulster Women’s match but we followed this one on social media and originally we thought they had lost but subsequently found out on our first “rest break” on the way back home that a last minute try from prop Philip Cooper had clinched the game for the Ulster boys. 

The full report can be read here on the Cardiff Blues site, but we’ve a brief summary of the Ulster A highlights below. 

A scintillating break from Ulster’s David Busby threatened to open the scoring but the Blues scrambled superbly and held firm before winning a penalty on their line.

Ulster did open the scoring however on 11 minutes as Johnny McPhillips knocked over a simple penalty.

Gareth Thompson struck back on 15 minutes but McPhillips kept Ulster A’s noses in front after the Blues were penalised at the breakdown.

However the Blues took the lead for the first time in the encounter on 26 minutes. Following a sweeping backs move the ball was recycled and worked left with Dolan swatting off one defender to stretch over.

Thompson added the extras to bring the scores to 10-6 and he was soon the one sliding over the whitewash after the Blues worked an overlap.

He once again slotted the conversion, this time from the touchline, to make it 17-6 shortly after the half-hour mark.

However in the closing stages of the half Lorcan Dow powered through the Blues defence to score under the sticks with McPhillips knocking over the conversion to make it 17-13 at the break.

It took the Blues just one minute to claim their third try in the second-half with Dolan intercepting inside his own half before releasing Ben Jones.

Thompson was once again on target and he exchanged further shots at goal with McPhillips before Ulster claimed a fine try.

McPhillips chipped a lovely kick over the Blues rush defence and Brett Herron collected to score beneath the posts with the fly-half converting.

The Premiership Select XV flexed their forward muscle and forced a turnover before Ulster’s Tommy O’Hagan was sin-binned.

The Blues were then awarded four penalties from their dominant scrum, but a penalty try was not forthcoming and to the dismay of the increasingly vocal crowd the Blues were penalised.

Ulster worked their way up field and Peter Cooper eventually squeezed into the corner to snatch the win.

Ulster A: Jack Owens, Connor Kelly, Rory Butler, Mark Best, David Busby, Johnny McPhillips, Dave Shanahan, Tom O’Hagan, John Andrew, Jonny Simpson, Connor Smyth, Stephen Mulholland, Nick Timoney, Conor Joyce, Lorcan Dow. Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Peter Cooper, John McCusker, Zack McCall, Jonny Stewart, Brett Herron, Josh Jordan

With Jersey beating London Scottish Ulster A are now out on their own at the top of Pool 1 and now look well set for a Quarter Final appearance. 

Ulster A 4 3 0 1 94 77 2 14
Jersey 4 3 0 1 100 63 1 13
London Scottish 4 2 0 2 92 95 3 11
Cardiff Blues 4 0 0 4 70 121 3 3
The competition format is a pool stage followed by a knockout stage. The pool stage consists of five pools of four teams playing home and away matches. The top side in each pool, plus the three best runners-up, progress to the knockout stage. The eight quarter-finalists are ranked, with top four teams having home advantage. The four winning quarter-finalists progress to the semi-final draw.
Ulster A’s remaining Pool Fixtures are as follows: 
Round 5: Ulster A v London Scottish – Friday 13th January at Kingspan Stadium, 7.00pm.
Round 6: Jersey Reds v Ulster A – Saturday 21st January at St Peter’s, 2.00pm.