RUGBY: Ulster stung in opening salvo of new season against Wasps

Ulster  Pete  Browne scores a try against Wasps
Ulster Pete Browne scores a try against Wasps

Tommy Bowe made a welcome return to the Ulster shirt on Thursday night.

The British Lions winger suffered an injury playing for Ireland against Wales in the Six Nations.

Ulster Stuart McCloskey  tackled by  Wasps Danny Cipriani and  Craig Hampson

Ulster Stuart McCloskey tackled by Wasps Danny Cipriani and Craig Hampson

His return last night saw him come on at centre to replace Stuart McCloskey during a 26-15 loss to Wasps at Kingspan Stadium in the first pre-season of the new campaign.

Both sides were missing players, Ulster their three British Lions and other summer tourists with Ireland, plus those still carrying injuries from last season.

That provided several young players such as Callum Patterson, Jack Owens, Nick Timoney and Matty Rea to show their worth as they look to break through to the senior side this season.

Jean Deysel made his debut after signing from Sharks over the summer having been on-loan to Munster.

Ulster  Callum Patterson runs in a try against Wasps

Ulster Callum Patterson runs in a try against Wasps

There was an opportunity for Brett Herron and Pete Nelson to bid for the outhalf shirt, even with Christian Lealiifano having been signed last week from Brumbies on a short-term contract.

Both gave steady performances in their respective 40 minute stints.

However, as pre-season friendlies go there was little to get over excited about from both sides.

Little will be taken on board from the coaches into their meetings in the European Champions Cup pool stages later in the term.

Ulster  Jean Deysel  against   Wasps

Ulster Jean Deysel against Wasps

The game was a ding-dong affair right up to the early stages of the second half before the Premiership visitors pulled away to take the spoils four tires to two.

Wasps took the lead after 11 minutes with a well worked try.

Former Leinster centre Brendan Macken cut through the home defence before offloading to Guy Thompson, the flanker drew the last defender before popping to scrum half Craig Hampson to go under the posts unopposed and Danny Cipriani converted.

Outhalf Brett Herron opened Ulster’s account with a well struck penalty on 22 minutes.

Ulster took the lead on 26 minutes with a try from lock Peter Browne.

Ulster were awarded a penalty from an attacking five metre scrum, Herron took a quick tap and fed Chris Henry who charged for the line, centre Callum Patterson and flanker Matt Rea also had darts for the line before Browne went over from close range for an unconverted try.

Wasps went into the interval leading following a try with the last play of the first half - Simon McIntyre emerged from the bottom of a driving maul from a lineout - Cipriani converted.

Ulster regained the lead four minutes after the restart, Peter Nelson fed No 8 Nick Timoney, he carried deep into the Wasps 22 before putting Patterson clear to score with Nelson converting.

Wasps went back in front six minutes later with their third try.

The English Premiership side ran the ball from deep in their own half, flanker Jack Willis made a break carrying into the Ulster 22 before passing to Josh Bassett and the winger had enough strength to hold of David Busby’s tackle. Cipriani failed to convert.

Cipriani went over for the visitors fourth try on the hour mark and Ulster never recovered.

Ulster: L Ludik, A Trimble, C Patterson, S McCloskey, C Gilroy, B Herron, P Marshall,; C Black, J Andrews, W Herbst; P Browne, A O’Connor, C Ross, C Henry, N Timoney,

Replacements: R Herring, A McBurney, A Warwick, K McCall, R Ah You, J Simpson, R Diack, J Deysel, C Montgomery, M Rea, A Cairns, D Shanahan, P Nelson, T Bowe, C Piutau, J Owens, D Busby,

Wasps

Wasps: R Miller, M Watson, B Macken, G Lovobalavu, J Bassett, D Cipriani, C Hampson,

S McIntyre, A Johnson, J Cooper-Wooley; W Rowlands, K Myall; J Willis, G Thompson, A Reider,

Replacements: T Cruse, B Harris, P Doran-Jones, Matt Symons, M Garratt, A Harris, D Robson, J de Jongh, G Armitage, C Wade, O James,

Ref F Murphy