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Dublin: -1°C Thursday 15 April 2021

Ulster's potential-rich 10-12-13 combo deliver 'really exciting' display

Michael Lowry, Stewart Moore, and James Hume impressed against Benetton.

ANY TIME A province names a 10-12-13 combination whose ages are 22, 21, and 22, it’s obvious that their supporters are going to be very excited.

So it was entirely unsurprising that Ulster fans were looking forward to seeing Michael Lowry, Stewart Moore, and James Hume playing together on Friday night against Benetton. They weren’t disappointed.

stewart-moore-scores-a-try Stewart Moore made his first senior start for Ulster against Benetton. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

There were a couple of defensive slips and moments that showed their inexperience, of course, but there was much more to like during Ulster’s 35-24 win.

Inside centre Moore made a gliding linebreak with his first touch in the second minute of his maiden senior start for Ulster, dummying and smoothly breaking upfield before offloading to Jacob Stockdale after another show of his footwork.

Moore had clever kicks, strong carries, subtly sharp passes, and some decent defensive work in what was the latest illustration of his rich potential, a week on from starring in Ulster A’s win over Leinster at the RDS.

Meanwhile, Lowry built on his promising performance at out-half away to Toulouse with a composed display as the starter in the number 10 shirt, making some combative tackles, showing his kicking smarts, and also scoring a try off John Cooney’s good pass.

Outside centre Hume continued his promising form of recent weeks with another demonstration of his footwork, power through contact, and acceleration – most notably when reacting with alertness to get on the end of Cooney’s sublime outside-of-the-foot grubber kick to score an Ulster try.

james-hume-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-michael-lowry Lowry and Hume celebrate the outside centre's try. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Lowry and Hume previously played together in school at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and have been working hard to break through at senior level with Ulster in recent years.

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After underlining his promise with the Ireland U20s at the 2019 World Rugby Championship, Moore is now into his first season on a senior professional contract and it’s clear that he has a big future as a complete playmaker in the number 12 shirt.

With senior team mainstays Billy Burns, Stuart McCloskey, and Luke Marshall absent against Benetton, it’s fair to say that the young guns took their chance to impress.

Ulster assistant coach Dan Soper, who coached Lowry and Hume at RBAI, was certainly pleased with what he saw.

“I thought it was really exciting, that 10-12-13 combination, seeing those three young fellas who have come up through the age-grade teams playing together, to see them out there playing together for Ulster in a senior fixture was really exciting,” said Soper.

michael-lowry-and-monty-ioane Lowry has played at fullback for Ulster too. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“I thought they did really well. James has been playing really well, he’s making a lot of progress which is great.

“Stew has been training really well and his opportunity wasn’t coming because of the nature of the games leading up to this, but everyone who has trained with him over the last year knows what a quality player he is. There’s a lot of potential there that we’re going to continue to work on.

“Seeing Mikey get a start at 10, it was just a really exciting combination. They brought a lot of energy, as young guys often do. Put the three of them together and there’s huge energy, which is great.

“We’re really pleased with how they’ve done and it’s great because it gives us some genuine competition across that midfield, which is what any squad needs.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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