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Marshall 'pretty good' after head knock as Anscombe hails 'General' Jackson

Here are the highlights and reaction from Ulster’s big win over the Dragons last night.

Image: Darren Kidd/Presseye.com

IT WAS A bittersweet night for Ulster at Ravenhill last night.

Sweet in that their furious first-half display against the Dragons yielded an early winning bonus point and Tommt Bowe played his way into contention for an Ireland jersey alongside Paddy Jackson.

Bitter, as another potential starter against Italy seemed to get ruled out.

“Lukey took a bit of a knock to the head, took a bit of a bash,” said head coach Mark Ancombe, £but he’s pretty good at the moment, we’ll just have to see how he bounces out of it.”

Marshall was replaced after the first quarter of the comprehensive 38 – 8 win over the visiting Welsh side after catching a stray boot to the head in a 21st minute ruck.

While no diagnosis has yet been made on the centre (who turns 23 on Monday) and TV footage showed him sitting comfortable on the bench in the second half; with his medical history it would seem the sensible option to rule him out of at least next Saturday’s Six Nations clash.

One man who will be keen to step into the same firing line is Paddy Jackson. The out-half was allowed some extra time on the field owing to Marshall’s injury in the five-try victory, and after his departure his side lost shape and direction with Jared Payne spending some time at number 10 and openside flanker Sean Doyle running from the right wing.

“We wanted to get him off a little bit earlier, but the fact is we were a bit thin [on personnel], so got maybe five or 10 minutes minutes more than we wanted to. We had to think of the team and he was happy to do that.”

“He’s got confidence and he’s believing in himself in what he’s capable of doing.

“He’s a good general now, He’s got a bit of experience and he’s had over 60 games for Ulster and seven or eight caps for Ireland, so he’s gaining a bit of experience and he’s comfortable int hat environment and he’s comfortable in his own skin and what he has to do as a rugby player.”

Anscombe added: “It’s tough, you try and balance and look after the guys. Hendo [Iain Henderson] and Paddy had a big day with the Irish team yesterday, they did a lot of running and that had an effect. We had to get Paddy off, but Hendo handled it well, I thought he looked good.”

There was little more that could be added to Tommy Bowe’s virtuoso two-try comeback from injury. The Kiwi merely labeled it positive that the Lions wing would deliver such a powerful strike-running weapon in his 40-minute comeback from a groin injury sustained against New Zealand.

Source: RaboDirect PRO12

Coming up, another bittersweet situation for Ulster. The northern province will have less time off than most in the coming weeks as they must play the postponed clash with Llanelli on March 14, and from there on in, Anscombe hopes, there will be no respite until the summer.

“It stops us gaining momentum, it’s stop-start, stop-start,” he says of the break from the Pro12. But as their time off will be shorter than 10 other teams he is keen to move on and “keep above it.”

“We’ve got a big job in two weeks time in Scarlets and we don’t want a hiccup there. we set out what we wanted to achieve in this window and we did that. The guys are getting a couple of days rest and then there’s no rest until the end of the year.

“We clearly know what we have to do to go forward and achieve what we want to achieve.”

Keeping Messrs Marshall, Bowe and Jackson fit and well will be high on that list.

- Additional reporting by Megan Joyce.

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Tommy Bowe stakes claim for Ireland place as Ulster ease to victory

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Sean Farrell

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