Tom Maher/INPHO Joe McCarthy is tackled by Mick Kearney.
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Ulster secure double over Leinster to stay on course for home quarter-final
Sam Carter and Mike Lowry’s tries secured an 18-13 win for Ulster.

Ulster 18

Leinster 13

Adam McKendry reports from Kingspan Stadium

FOLLOWING ON FROM Ireland’s win over England, played in horrific conditions at Kingspan Stadium and with only a small smattering of internationals on show on both sides, if there was ever an inter-provincial for the purists then this was it.

In the end it was first-half tries from Sam Carter and Mike Lowry that swung it the way of Ulster, who held on resolutely in the second-half to claim an 18-13 win over Leinster to complete a rare double over their inter-provincial rivals and consolidate second place in the United Rugby Championship standings.

They could have jumped above Leinster into top spot had they won with the bonus-point but, in truth, the conditions never lent themselves to four tries on either side and in the end Leinster were good value for their losing bonus point.

Indeed, Leo Cullen may think his side perhaps should have had more as they had chances to cross the whitewash in a second-half they dominated territorially, but Ulster’s defence held just firm enough to extend their winning run to seven games on the occasion of centre Stuart McCloskey’s 150th appearance for the province.

Even in the brutal conditions full-back Lowry had another excellent game for Dan McFarland’s side, as did flanker Nick Timoney, both having laid down a marker ahead of next week’s Six Nations clash with Scotland even if Andy Farrell likely won’t tinker with a winning team.

luke-mcgrath-with-nick-timoney Evan Treacy / INPHO Luke McGrath competes with Nick Timoney Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

It was an early 50:22 from Lowry that provided Ulster the platform for the opening score, the full-back spiralling a kick out just inside the Leinster 22 to earn the line-out, and from there they were clinical.

John Andrew pumped the legs to move them inside the five-metre line with a strong carry and after Timoney and then Andrew Warwick were held short, the gap opened up for Carter to thump his way over the line for the try.

Leinster responded almost immediately through the boot of Ross Byrne and they could have pulled ahead when Jamie Osborne’s searing line-break took him into the 22, only for Lowry to just do enough to hold him back and force the knock-on when he tried to offload to Adam Byrne on his shoulder.

But the visitors would have their try soon after it came after a sustained period of pressure on the line, Luke McGrath deciding to turn down a kick at goal to tap-and-go from five metres out and they were rewarded when Max Deegan eventually burrowed his way over.

Doak tied things up again through the boot before Ulster ensured they would have the lead at the interval, Lowry and Baloucoune linking along the touchline and it was the latter who off-loaded for the former to take it over the line for their second score of the evening.

Another penalty from Doak made it an eight-point spread at the break, but Byrne was on hand to reduce the gap with a penalty inside the first two minutes of the second half after a fine jackal penalty won by Tommy O’Brien.

With the conditions worsening, the game started to be dictated by the boot as both sides looked to win the territory battle, and it started to edge the way of the visitors however they weren’t getting rewarded on the scoreboard.

They did come close, another period of sustained pressure in the Ulster 22 just after the hour mark looking sure to result in a try, only for two knock-ons to cost them deep in the red zone as they pressed for that go-ahead try, and that would be as close as they would come to snatching the win.

Once Ulster finally managed to clear their lines from a scrum free-kick, Leinster would never work their way back into the 22 to get another bite at the cherry, the hosts keeping them limited to the halfway line and closing out the victory professionally with a well-regimented defensive effort led by Timoney and Alan O’Connor.

This won’t be one anybody watches back in a hurry, but you suspect neither side will be overly disappointed with their returns. However, the race for top spot in the URC has just become that little bit closer.



Tries: Carter, Lowry

Conversion: Doak

Penalties: Doak (2)


Try: Deegan

Conversion: R Byrne

Penalties: R Byrne (2)


(15-9) Mike Lowry; Robert Baloucoune, Stewart Moore, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy; Billy Burns, Nathan Doak (John Cooney 47); (1-8) Andrew Warwick (Eric O’Sullivan 47), John Andrew (Tom Stewart 38), Marty Moore (Gareth Milasinovich 80); Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Mick Kearney 47); Marcus Rea (Jordi Murphy 55), Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen (Ben Moxham 66).

Sub not used: Ian Madigan.


(15-9) Jimmy O’Brien (David Hawkshaw 76); Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Jamie Osborne, Tommy O’Brien; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (Nick McCarthy 66); (1-8) Peter Dooley (Temi Lasisi 80), James Tracy (Sean Cronin 57), Michael Ala’alatoa (Thomas Clarkson 68); Ross Molony (Devin Toner 72), Joe McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock (Martin Moloney 70), Scott Penny (Dan Leavy 57), Max Deegan.

Player of the Match: Nick Timoney (Ulster)

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

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