RUGBY: Leinster defeat Ulster in pre-season friendly

Leinster's Jack Conan tackled by Jakob Stockdale (left)Leinster's Jack Conan tackled by Jakob Stockdale (left)
Leinster's Jack Conan tackled by Jakob Stockdale (left)

Leinster scored two late tries to record a 31-14 win over Ulster in an entertaining pre-season encounter at Navan RFC on Saturday.

Les Kiss named an inexperienced match day squad for the clash, with Sam Windsor captaining the side from inside centre and a number of Hughes Insurance Academy players given opportunities to impress.

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Ulster started brightly, with Brett Herron looking assured in the number 10 jersey, but it was the hosts who struck first with a Dan Leavy try.

A breakdown infringement in midfield gave Leinster a penalty, which was kicked to the corner by Ross Byrne. Leavy benefitted from a well-worked driven maul by his forwards as he crashed over near the left touchline. Byrne kicked the difficult conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Ulster continued to put width in their play and they were rewarded in the 25th minute when Mark Best crossed from close range. The score followed some lovely phase play involving forwards and backs in equal measure, with Best grubbering through before eventually collecting to dot down.

Opposing captain Jack Conan scored on the stroke of half time to give his side a 14-7 interval lead. Rory O’Loughlin produced a scintillating break, beating three defenders, before finding his skipper with a sublime offload.

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Both sides made wholesale changes at the break, with Les Kiss introducing 10 new faces and Leo Cullen drafting in 13. As expected, that affected the flow of the game slightly but both sides continued to look dangerous throughout the second half.

Jacob Stockdale won a fine turnover after chasing down an Angus Lloyd kick and good hands by Clive Ross fed Robert Lyttle for a score in the corner. Johnny McPhillips added the extras to draw the score level at 14-14.

Josh Murphy replied for Leinster soon after, with O’Loughlin supplying another great offload for his second assist of the afternoon (19-14). Fergus McFadden then scored his team’s fourth try of the day, and their second in quick succession, after fine work by Zane Kirchner.

And there was still time for a fifth as Joey Carberry was provider for Adam Byrne, who showed great pace to finish the game off.

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Director of Rugby, Less Kiss said: “We’ve got to be very pleased, particularly with the first 70 minutes. Overall, I’m really happy with how our young players performed against a pretty experienced Leinster side. They will have learned and got experience, which is a huge plus for us.”

He added, “I thought we put some really good stuff together and played with great width. Our scrum put them under pressure in the second half, which was pleasing. Stevie Mulholland, and in particular Mattie Rea, had some really nice carries for us. I was very pleased with the half backs; Dave Shanahan and Angus Lloyd at 9, and Brett Herron and Johnny McPhillips at 10, all stood up and showed some nice touches. Also, Louis Ludik looked very sharp coming into the line from deep.”

Starting XV (15-9): L Ludik; J Stockdale, M Best, S Windsor (capt), D Busby; B Herron, D Shanahan;

(1-8): K McCall, J Murphy, J Simpson, A O’Connor, J Donnan, S Mulholland, N Timoney, M Rea;

Replacements used: A Warwick, J Andrew, R Ah You, C Ross, C Boomer, A Lloyd, J McPhillips, R Butler, R Lyttle, A Magrath, C Smyth, C Kelly, A Thompson, A Cairns, R Kane, M Lagan, Z McCall.

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