British Lion winger Tommy Bowe is set to challenge for a place in the Ulster team for next Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 game against Zebre in Italy.
The Irish international made his long awaited return to playing after injury when he started for Ulster ‘A’ in yesterday’s 38-31 victory over Munster ‘A’ at Naas in a shadow inter-provincial game.
The 32-year-old came through the the front 40 well before he was replaced, as has been the plan, Ulster director of rugby, Les Kiss, keen to manage his return to playing carefully.
It was Bowe’s first appearance in an Ulster jersey this season.
He susatined posterior cruciate ligament and meniscal damage to his knee injury during Ireland’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina last October.
It is another boost for Kiss and the club to have Bowe back in the mix ahead of three huge games in their bid to make the league play-offs.
Ulster are curently lying fifth and have games against Zebre (April 16, away), Leinster (April 30, home) and Ospreys (May 7, away) to complete the regular league season.
The top four go through to the play-offs and although Ulster could win those reamining games, they could still miss out as they are reliant on other results.
In yesterday’s game, Ulster ‘A’, captained by Darren Cave, scored six tries in their deserved 38-31 victory over Munster.
Lorcan Dow enjoyed a brace while there was a piece for Cave, Jacob Stockdale, David Shanahan and Rory Scholes.
Double try scorer, number eight, Dow said: “I thought the boys pulled together really well.
“We had a very diverse group of guys but everyone pulled together and we got the result.
“From the get go this week we said we were really going to have a go at them and I think we really paid tribute to do what we had set out to do.”
As well as Bowe and Cave, prop Andrew Warwick started the game and Dow feels it’s great to learn of the senior players.
“Those guys are constantly talking and they give you confidence,” he explained.
“Their experience filters through and everyone asks them questions and they are happy to ask so it is great having them about.”
Dow wasn’t taking too much credit for his touchdowns.
“I suppose they were both team tries - just back of the maul stuff and I’m obviously happy to get over the whitewash as somebody has to do it.”
Dow was also pleased to play with two-time British Lion, Bowe.
“You grow up watching him and it was great to have him back in the ranks, he;’s a great lad and I really enjoyed it.”