Ulster were narrowly edged out by Gloucester despite tries from Marcus Rea and Nick Timoney in the first half as well as James Hume in the first of two pre-season friendlies.
Despite a fast tempo start from both sides it took until the 28th minute for the deadlock to be broken with Gerbrandt Grobler crossing for the away side.
However Ulster responded immediately with a try from Marcus Rea. Ulster worked their way into the Gloucester 22 and a soft hands from Michael Lowry found Angus Kernohan on the inside who broke the line. Another carry from Tom O’Toole and Rea capitalised on a lack of Gloucester bodies at the breakdown to cross the try line.
Nick Timoney gave Ulster the lead with five minutes remaining in the half. The Blackrock man broke the line with a trademark strong hand-off and scored in a similar fashion to his pre-season score against Wasps last season.
The lead was short lived as Owen Williams danced around two Ulster tacklers and his conversion gave the Cherry Whites the lead at the interval.
Charlie Sharples extended Gloucester’s lead five minutes after the restart when he gathered his own chipped kick over the line.
Ulster knocked on the Gloucester door for 15 minutes after their try before managing to narrow the deficit. Again, Billy Burns found Aaron Sexton on the inside and the Bangor Grammar student passed to James Hume who brought Ulster to within two points of the away side.
In the end Gloucester proved too much for the Ulstermen and two tries from Todd Gleave and Henry Purdy gave them a deserved 29-17 victory.
As predicted it was a scrappy performance, particularly in the second half, from Ulster. Typically, the number of changes made throughout the half disrupted Ulster’s rhythm, but there’s certainly room for improvement.
The positives included the deft-hand-flick off first receiver which set up two Ulster tries but also plenty of things that need to be fine-tuned ahead of the new season such as their ruthlessness in the final third.
Nick Timoney continued to impress while Peter Nelson looked more assured at 15.
Angus Kernohan looked sharp on the left wing, putting in good tackles as well as making an intercept in the first half.
Both Billy Burns and Michael Lowry were positive and took the ball to the line well, resulting in two of Ulster's tries.
Here's the ratings of the starting team plus a few players who deserve mentions:
- Schalk vd Merwe
- John Andrew
- Tom O'Toole
- Alan O'Connor
- Alex Thompson
- Marcus Rea
- Chris Henry
- Nick Timoney
- Jonny Stewart
- Michael Lowry
- Angus Kernohan
- Darren Cave
- Stewart Moore
- Craig Gilroy
- Pete Nelson
- Billy Burns
- Aaron Sexton
- James Hume
- Clive Ross
- Marty Moore
- Kyle McCall