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Henderson helps Ulster inflict painful defeat on Leinster

Ulster scored 26 unanswered points after trailing 10 -0 early on.

Image: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

Ulster 26

Leinster 10

ULSTER PRODUCED A dominant display in tonight’s inter-provincial clash to keep their hopes of a home Pro12 semi-final on track while effectively ending Leinster’s defence of the trophy.

Tries in either half from Iain Henderson and Craig Gilroy were complimented by 16 points from the boot of Ruan Pienaar and an accomplished display at out-half from Paddy Jackson.

Leinster went in to this game declaring that only a win would save them from being innocent bystanders in the post-season playoff shake-up. And the fear of missing out appeared to inspire a blistering start.

Jimmy Gopperth set the early tone, raiding through a gap on Leinster’s first possession after a poor kick-off return. Ulster’s scramble defence saved them on that occasion, keeping Leinster’s haul to a penalty. But the visitors’ second attack was much more clinical.

Rory Best’s overthrown seventh-minute line-out gave Leinster cheap possession on the Ulster 10 and Gopperth’s inside pass found Ben Te’o on a galloping run past a flailing Roger Wilson. The centre was caught before he crossed the line, but Te’o's power ensured he would roll from the five metre mark to the try-line.

Ben Te'o scores a try Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Ulster were 10 – 0 down, but far from panicking. A superb break from Paddy Jackson saw him advance 20 metres on an angle, bouncing Gopperth off before recycling the ball for the cavalry. With Leinster stretched Ulster went left along the 22. And – aided by more than a hint of a check from referee John Lacey on Sean O’Brien – Pienaar popped a pass to Iain Henderson who romped home from 15 metres for Ulster’s opening score.

The game was level by the time O’Brien was sin-binned for a perceived tip tackle on 21 minutes, but by that stage the weather had closed in and Ulster’s pressure too often ended in a knock-on. Pienaar would miss two long-range efforts from the right side of the field, but a more central penalty allowed the Springbok fire Ulster in to a 13 – 10 lead at the half-time break. It was scant reward for their territorial dominance.

The second half had no such early fireworks. The rain may have stopped, but so too had the momentum from both sides.

Paddy Jackson is tackled by Isaac Boss Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

It took until the 64th minute for the first score of the second period and it arrived after a near comedy of errors was turned in to a threatening break from Louis Ludik.

With Rob Kearney sin-binned during the set of phases, Ulster rediscovered a swagger and Pienaar embodied that with a monster 48-metre penalty three minutes later to put his side nine points clear.

The hosts were confident, measured and would not be rushed. Replacement centre Stuart McCloskey made hard yards along with his pack as Ulster set up shop in the left corner of Leinster’s 22. But when they went wide, it was Jackson who found the key to a well set Leinster defence.

The out-half delivered an excellent reverse pass for Craig Gilroy to latch onto and the wing duly ended the game as a contest with a 74th minute try.

The result puts Ulster top of the Pro12 by two points. Albeit temporarily, with Glasgow headed for Galway and Munster licking their lips at the prospect of facing Treviso in Cork tomorrow. Whatever happens in those games though, Ulster fans can look forward to another seismic inter-provincial clash when Munster visit in two week’s time.



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Tries: I Henderson, C Gilroy

Conversions: R Pienaar (2)

Penalties R Pienaar (4)


Tries: B Te’o

Conversions: J Gopperth

Penalties: J Gopperth


15. Louis Ludik
14. Tommy Bowe
13. Jared Payne
12. Darren Cave
11. Craig Gilroy
10. Paddy Jackson
9. Ruan Pienaar

1. Callum Black
2. Rory Best (c)
3. Wiehahn Herbst
4. Dan Tuohy
5. Franco van der Merwe
6. Iain Henderson
7. Chris Henry
8. Roger Wilson


16. Rob Herring
17. Andrew Warwick
18. Bronson Ross
19. Robbie Diack
20. Clive Ross
21. Paul Marshall
22. Ian Humphreys
23. Stuart McCloskey


15.Rob Kearney
14. Zane Kirchner
13. Ben Te’o
12. Gordon D’Arcy
11. Luke Fitzgerald
10. Jimmy Gopperth
9. Isaac Boss

1. Cian Healy
2. Richardt Strauss
3. Mike Ross
4. Devin Toner
5. Mike McCarthy
6. Dominic Ryan
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip (capt)


16. Sean Cronin
17. Jack McGrath
18. Tadhg Furlong
19. Ben Marshall
20. Jordi Murphy
21. Eoin Reddan
22. Ian Madigan
23. Darragh Fanning

As it happened: Ulster v Leinster, Pro12

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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