Chris Henry is a tackling machine
The openside put in a savage amount of tackles at Welford Road as he connected with 23 tackles. Henry offered himself for eight carries too and was just as committed in the closing stages as he was in the first minute. The Ulster back-row is a force to be reckoned with and Henry often proves the inspiration. Should provide adequate cover for Sean O’Brien in the Six Nations and free up Jamie Heaslip for ball carries.
Ruan Pienaar is a class above
Securing the South African’s signature on a contract extension late last year is the best business Ulster will do all season. Pienaar has been excellent all season but somehow went up another notch in the white heat of battle with the Tigers. His grubbers and kicks had Leicester worried all evening and his charge down on Toby Flood for his try was the rallying cry his team needed. The penalty he slotted from halfway to make it 22-19 told you everything you need to know about the man’s bottle.
Pienaar contributed all 22 of Ulster’s points. INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Ulster have genuine strength in depth
While Tigers were missing the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Tom Croft and Geoff Parling [all Lions], Ulster had a very strong bench. Mark Anscombe only called on Tom Court and Iain Henderson but both made a winning impact. Robbie Diack, who has been outstanding at blindside this season, was on the bench and came on for Nick Williams as a blood substitute. Roger Wilson, who started at 6, had a fine game. With Tommy Bowe almost back to full fitness, Ulster’s squad is in rude health for the business end of the season.
Paddy Jackson needs to work on his drop goals
Apart from kicking the ball out on the full once, Paddy Jackson had a good game at outhalf. His up-and-unders tested Matthew Tait and Scott Hamilton, he teed up Luke Marshall and Nick Williams for their customary double-figure carries and he laid in with 15 tackles. The only niggle to emerge from the game was the relatively simple drop goal chance he missed from 35 metres out, straight in front of the posts, just before half-time. The out-half should keep practicing and attempting the three-pointers though as the could prove crucial in the knock-out stages.
Rory is back to his Best
The hooker was his team’s third highest tackler, with 13, and was a nuisance at the breakdown. He was part of a front row unit that initially struggled at the scrum but found their feet in the second-half. He had one throw stolen by the impressive Graham Kitchener but was otherwise solid at the lineout. His best moment came in the final minutes as he snapped up a drop from Toby Flood and hooved the ball over 40 metres from the Ulster tryline like a veteran out-half.
Which Ulster players stood out for you yesterday? Do you think Ulster have enough to win the Heineken Cup? Let us know in the comments section below.