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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 25 April, 2019
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Nerveless Paddy Jackson kicks Ulster to crucial win over Ospreys

An injury to Craig Gilroy was the only blot on a superb night in Swansea for the Irish province.

Paddy Jackson converts on of his six penalties.
Paddy Jackson converts on of his six penalties.
Image: INPHO/Chris Fairweather

Updated 20:50

ULSTER CAME BACK from 12 — 0 down to clinch an impressive 18 — 12 win over Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium. Paddy Jackson was the hero as he slotted over six penalties in the second half.

There was a dearth of scoring, or scoring opportunities, in the first half of Ulster’s RaboDirect Pro12 clash with the Welsh side.

Mark Anscombe’s men trailed the 2012 league champions 6 — 0 at the break but the Kiwi must have been pleased with the efforts of his men. What may disturb Anscombe, however, is the ankle injury sustained by fullback Craig Gilroy.

Having lost outside centre Jared Payne to illness before kick-off, Ulster will not have enjoyed the sight of Gilroy being helped from the pitch after rolling his ankle. The ice pack did not alleviate the situation and David McIlwaine came on after 15 minutes.

imageCraig Gilroy was injury after shipping a heavy tackle and rolling his ankle. INPHO/Chris Fairweather

The visitors went behind on 22 minutes when Dan Biggar slotted over a penalty. Adam Jones received a talking to at one stage but was allowed to remain on the pitch, while Ospreys’ Canadian debutant Tyler Ardon put in some big defensive hits.

It looked as though Ulster would make it to half-time just three points behind before Dan Tuohy was pinged. Biggar, who surpassed the 1,000 point mark in the league last weekend, made it 6 — 0 with the last piece of play before the break. His penalty from the touchline was perfectly judged.

The penalty pain continued after the break as Biggar added two more in the space of five minutes to make it 12 — 0. Anscombe brought on inside centre Suart Olding to add some spark to the backline but it was his forwards that started to gain some traction. Three hard-earned penalties were converted by Jackson to leave the scoreline 12 — 9 with just over a quarter of the game to play.

The Ulster pack was well on top and they earned another penalty, with 15 minutes left, allowing Jackson to level matters. The young outhalf then slotted a monster penalty from just inside the Ospreys half to put his side ahead.

Ospreys lost a man to the sin bin as they tried to wrestle possession back from a rampant Ulster side and Jackson made it a six point game. Ospreys rallied and Olding was sin-binned in an attempt to hold-up quick ruck ball. The Ulster defence hold out, however, and a knock-on gave them a defensive scrum, which they safely negotiated to earn four huge points.

YouTube credit: RaboDirect PRO12

Over in Italy, Connacht succumbed to Benetton Treviso. They shipped two second half tries in a 23 — 3 loss.

This article was first published at 20:00pm

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Patrick McCarry

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