On The Road

Ulster A leave the RDS with deserved four-try victory over Leinster

Bill Johnston scored 14 points as the Ulster back row delivered an excellent performance.

Leinster A 14

Ulster A 29

IT HASN’T BEEN a great fortnight for Leinster on home soil, with last weekend’s Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Saracens followed up by a 29-14 loss for the province’s A team to Ulster tonight.

The Ulstermen were thoroughly deserving of their win, with Ireland boss Andy Farrell at the RDS to watch on as they scored four tries through Bill Johnston, Adam McBurney, Matt Faddes, and Craig Gilroy.

dave-shanahan-celebrates-adam-mcburneys-try Morgan Treacy / INPHO Ulster celebrate captain Adam McBurney's second-half try. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Out-half Johnston was an assured presence and scored 14 points in total, including a long-range penalty at a crucial stage, while the Ulster back row of David McCann, Marcus Rea, and Greg Jones were outstanding. That trio combined strong work in contact with smart decision-making, good footwork, and sharp handling.

Leinster led 14-7 early in the second half thanks to scores from Max Deegan and Peter Dooley but their performance was error-strewn aside from the dominance they enjoyed at scrum time.

Ulster will be pleased with what they saw from their combination of senior players and prospects, with centre Stewart Moore showing his potential and rapid wing Aaron Sexton looking dangerous any time he touched the ball. 

The experience of the likes of Johnston, Gilroy and Faddes – who scored a wonderful solo try – was important too, and the trip back north will be a happy one.

Leinster won’t have enjoyed losing at home but there were impressive individual performances from powerful lock Jack Dunne, combative back Tommy O’Brien, and Ireland international Max Deegan, among others.

Ulster started better as Leinster errors allowed the visitors access into the 22. From a right-hand side maul, Moore’s clever pullback pass sent wing Gilroy running between defenders and he was able to offload for Johnston to cross under the posts for a 14th-minute try he converted himself.

bill-johnston-kicks-a-score Morgan Treacy / INPHO Johnston scored a long-range penalty. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Ulster spent plenty of time in good field position in the first half but without further reward. Twice, Tommy O’Brien made big defensive plays with breakdown turnovers for Leinster in an impressive display.

Leinster’s increasing scrum dominance gave them a final shot just before half-time and they took it clinically with the clock in the red, Deegan the man to power over from close-range, allowing out-half Harry Byrne to convert for 7-7 at the break.

Leinster carried that momentum straight into the restart, winning a penalty and kicking into the right corner, from where a series of hard carries concluded with second row Dunne making a lovely offload to free loosehead prop Peter Dooley to finish, with Byrne converting again.

Ulster’s scrum woes continued in the third quarter and eventually saw tighthead prop Gareth Milasinovich sent to the bin. That meant wing Sexton joining the next scrum and Ulster actually won the penalty this time, kicking into the left corner and converting the chance via a maul try for hooker McBurney.

Johnston couldn’t convert but he did add the extras to Faddes’ superb solo score soon after as the Kiwi, playing at fullback at this stage, snuck down the right touchline on the counter-attack, chipped over the last defender, nudged the ball over the tryline, and dived on it for an excellent try.

Ulster led 19-14 with 14 minutes left and had to withstand serious pressure from Leinster, with blindside flanker Rea producing a massive breakdown steal a metre from his own tryline.

andy-farrell Morgan Treacy / INPHO Ireland boss Andy Farrell was in attendance at the RDS. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

A side entry from Leinster then gave Ulster a penalty two metres inside their own half but Johnston smashed over the three points to give them some breathing room. 

And the deal was sealed as Gilroy intercepted in the last minute to streak away from the halfway line and score Ulster’s fourth try, with Johnston converting with the last play of the game for 29-14.

Leinster A scorers:

Tries: Max Deegan, Peter Dooley

Conversions: Harry Byrne [2 from 2]

Ulster A scorers:

Tries: Bill Johnston, Adam McBurney, Matt Faddes, Craig Gilroy

Conversions: Bill Johnston [3 from 4]

Penalties: Bill Johnston [1 from 1]

LEINSTER A: Michael Silvester (Niall Comerford ‘HT); Tommy O’Brien, Jimmy O’Brien (Michael Silvester ’75), Ciarán Frawley (Liam Turner ‘HT), Cian Kelleher (Andrew Smith ‘HT); Harry Byrne (David Hawkshaw ’67), Hugh O’Sullivan (Rowan Osborne ‘HT) (Cormac Foley ’79); Peter Dooley (Michael Milne ’55), James Tracy (John McKee ’55), Ciaran Parker (Tom Clarkson ’67); Jack Dunne, Charlie Ryan (captain) (Ross Molony ‘HT); Josh Murphy (Rhys Ruddock ‘HT), Scott Penny (Martin Moloney ’55), Max Deegan (Sean O’Brien ‘HT).

Replacements: Joe McCarthy, Alex Soroka.

ULSTER A: Ethan McIlroy (Hayden Hyde ’22); Craig Gilroy, Matt Faddes, Stewart Moore, Aaron Sexton; Bill Johnston, David Shanahan; Kyle McCall (Callum Reid ‘HT), Adam McBurney (captain) (Tom Stewart ’75), Gareth Milasinovich (yellow card ’50) (Ross Kane ’60); David O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell; David McCann, Marcus Rea (Ross Kane ’52 to ’60), Greg Jones.

Replacements: Azur Allison, Reuben Crothers, Lewis Finlay, Bruce Houston, Conor Rankin, Nathan Doak.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel