Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
# Perseverance
'Bit like the Bath incident': Stockdale ends unwanted streak as Ulster beat Munster
Munster boss Johann van Graan, meanwhile, was disappointed to see his side lose touch after trailing by just seven at half-time.

THERE WERE 356 days between Jacob Stockdale’s 26th and 27th tries for Ulster.

Yet when it comes time to watch back his highlight reel, there needn’t be any sense that he skipped a beat.

Coming up on 51 weeks ago his try in the win over Racing 92 was a trademark chip, race and regather. As Ulster tore through Munster last night it was another Stockdale special, the intercept,

Although, as Dan McFarland pointed out post-match, it was more than a clean shot onto a Joey Carbery pass that earned him the score. Indeed, the incident it reminded the head coach of was not a try, but a try-saver.

“He wants to score tries but he’s not the kind of guy who is panicking about stuff like that (try-less streak for Ulster),” said the head coach.

jacob-stockdale-intercepts-the-ball-despite-sammy-arnold Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Stockdale rips the ball away from Sam Arnold. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

“It was a little bit like the Bath incident, wasn’t it? A lovely read in defence and good communication in defence and robbing the ball.”

Further reward for Stockdale’s defensive diligence and willingness to scrap for a ball he had no real right to win from Sam Arnold.

That was Ulster’s fifth try of the night in the 38-17 win over a dis-jointed Munster, an impressive showing that left a HIA concern over John Cooney as the only black mark on the match.

“You’d have to be pleased, Munster are a quality team, they defend really hard and they stretched us today. On both sides of the ball they tested us and we had to be good to get points off them,” said McFarland.

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His opposite number Johann van Graan, meanwhile, was left to lament the untimely penalties shipped by his team as they head towards a clash with Racing on the back of two wins in their last seven matches.

“We spoke at half-time about discipline and patience and we conceded a penalty just after half-time, we conceded a try and went from 17 to 24-10 straight away,” said Van Graan.

“We came up against a good side at home who haven’t lost here for a long time. We had to play more, on 31-10 that intercept killed the game. So, we got out-played on the evening and I’m very disappointed.”

On top of his disappointment over the performance, there was added frustration for the South African as Fineen Wycherley was lost early to a HIA before Andrew Conway and Niall Scannell picked up knocks to mark them as doubts for the visit to Paris next Sunday.

“We will have a few more lads back on Monday,” said Van Graan while referring again to the challenge of organising a group of players that, by the design of Irish Rugby, is consistently disrupted.

jacob-stockdale-speaks-to-peter-omahony-after-the-game Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Stockdale and O'Mahony speak post-match. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

“As a group we haven’t even reviewed the Saracens game because everyone was away, our top 12 guys weren’t with us for two weeks. So we will look at it as a group and see what we could have done better tonight and then move on.

“This was an incredible block of 13 games and we are going now into game 12 of 13: so a different competition, a different challenge coming up against a team in Paris under the roof on a 4G pitch which is totally different than we face out there.

“That is rugby, I will take the responsibility on my side, straight on the nose and then we move on.”

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