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Ulster centre Darren Cave talks the talk and walks the walk

Ulster's Darren Cave delivers the perfect pass to send Luke Marshall in for a try against Benetton Treviso

Ulster's Darren Cave delivers the perfect pass to send Luke Marshall in for a try against Benetton Treviso

The spotlight fell on Darren Cave at Ravenhill on Saturday evening, whether he wanted it or not.

The Ulster and Irish midfielder had been the centre of attention earlier this week in the pre-match build-up when he vented his frustration at being overlooked for selection at times for Ireland.

Admittedly, the initial story which caused the furore was one which had misrepresented Cave’s case, taking his words out of context to simply make a headline fit.

Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt empathised with Cave on his blast and most media outlets either ran or broadcast the interview in full which allowed the public to draw their own conclusions on exactly where Cave was coming from.

Cave did call Schmidt to explain the situation.

His plight and frustration is also understandable.

Although he toured with Ireland in North America over the summer he was overlooked for the Six Nations pre that tour and then the recent November Test series in Dublin.

It is difficult when you happen to share the same position as the world’s best in the game, Brian O’Driscoll.

And Ireland and Ulster have also indicated that O’Driscoll’s predecessor looks set to be Ulster’s Jared Payne once the Kiwi becomes Irish qualified next summer.

But if ever a player had to stand by his words, Cave needed to produce a massive performance in the No 13 shirt on Saturday night at Ravenhill against Benetton Treviso in Pool Five of the Heineken Cup.

Cave delivered an outstanding display - although when he dropped a pass in the opening minutes one feared this could be one of those nights.

Sky Sports may have selected Ulster hooker, Rob Herring as the man of the match, but - and with no disrespect to Herring who did turn in a huge performance - it was Cave who shone, closely followed by fellow midfielder, Luke Marshall.

The News Letter team opted to give Cave the plaudits because the former Sullivan Upper man was under pressure to stand by his words from earlier in the week.

If ever a player proved he could walk the walk after talking the talk, it was Cave.

The 48-0 win over Treviso came down to individual performances from everyone, all coming together to deliver a great team effort. But it was the backline which had made the difference against the Italians.

The first try on the fifth minute saw great build-up from Ulster, but Cave did really well to pop the ball up into the path of outhalf, Paddy Jackson - making his 50th appearance and marking it by scoring a total of 18 points.

For the second try, scored by Marshall, Jared Payne had made the initial break, but it was Cave who took on two defenders and made the perfect pass to his team mate to cross.

The bonus point try, scored by Dan Tuohy, saw Cave first take the pass from the second row and then keep his feet to pass back and present the opening.

And for the sixth try of the night, Marshall made the initial tap and go, but it was Cave who made the final pass to Andrew Trimble.

The only thing missing from Cave’s night was a try.

Add in the defensive display by Cave and he certainly ticked all the boxes - Schmidt will have hopefully taken note!

Cave talked the talk and then walked the walk. More of the same against Treviso in the return leg in Italy this weekend can only echo his and the Ulster fans’ feelings with regard to Irish selection.

 

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