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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 14 April 2021
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Ulster fightback falls short as they lose in Leicester

Ulster couldn’t overcome a sixteen point half-time deficit.

Tommy Bowe's try started the Ulster comeback.
Tommy Bowe's try started the Ulster comeback.
Image: Presseye/Andrew Fosker/INPHO

ULTIMATELY ULSTER GAVE themselves too much to do at Welford Road. They were sixteen points in arrears at the break and despite a spirited second half display that yielded two cracking tries, they couldn’t get closer than losing bonus point territory as Leicester prevailed 25-18.

They dominated the opening moments though and Paddy Jackson kicked them in front after they had masterfully gone through 22 phases in enemy territory.

Then, things got ugly. The Leicester blitz was always going to come but what was surprising was how clinical it was when it arrived. Tries from Owen Williams, Graham Kitchener and Freddie Burns put Leicester 19-3 ahead and it seemed to just be a matter of time before Leicester would get their bonus point try.

Ulster weren’t helped by the ten minutes Craig Gilroy spent in the bin for tackling Miles Benjamin without the ball, even after Tommy Bowe had been penalised for committing the same offence on the same player minutes earlier.

The second half saw Owen Williams and Paddy Jackson swap penalties before Ulster came to life. Stuart Olding replaced Stuart McCloskey and immediately he made an impact, feeding Tommy Bowe the ball in space and the wing thundered down the touchline into the Leicester 22 before exchanging a one-two with Payne which allowed him to touch down.

Williams kicked another penalty to extend Leicester’s lead to 25-13 but Ulster struck again with another piece of scintillating backline class. Gilroy ran a wonderful line to knife through the defence before finding Darren Cave. The centre was tackled just short of the line but on the next phase Franco van der Merwe jumped over the defensive ruck to score.

Paddy Jackson had his conversion blocked down thereafter but it didn’t matter in the end as Leicester were able to withstand some late Ulster pressure to get off to a winning start in the inaugural Champions Cup.

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