In an entertaining pre-season friendly opener for last season’s PRO12 finalists, Ulster took the early season bragging rights with this 21-19 win over their arch rivals Leinster.
It took a last gasp try to win it for the home side after they had dominated the second half on Friday night.
Leinster were the stand out side for the first half hour reflected in a 13-0 lead after 23 minutes. Summer signing from New Zealand, outhalf Jimmy Goppereth kicked two penalties (8 and 19 minutes) and then added the extras to a try from backrow forward Dominic Ryan.
It sparked Ulster into action and after inward yards were made by centres, Chris Farrell and captain Jared Payne, the later forced his way in following a scrum close out. Outhalf James McKinney converted for his first points on his return to Ravenhill after a season at Rotherham.
With the final play of the game – after Sean Doyle had caught Aaron Dundon on his own line – the resulting scrum saw Ulster No 8, Nick Williams, score a trademark try pumelling his way over. McKinney’s conversion took Ulster in at the break leading 14-13.
An early penalty from Goppereth in the second half put Leinster back in front, 16-13, and Ulster should have come away with points when they pressurised the Leinster line for 10 minutes.
When the visitors pressed, a peanlty was drilled over by Goppereth on 60 minutes to extend the lead while five minutes later, McKinney failed to take a chance – the first time he had opted to take a kickable penalty.
As the clock ticked down to the closing minute, Ulster bombarded the visiting line again and eventually replacement scrumhalf, Ian Porter, scampered in to level at 19-all.
McKinney held his nerve to slot over the conversion and make it a winning start to the season for Ulster much to the delight of the packed Ravenhill.