Ulster too strong for Connacht in inter-pro derby

Credit: Connacht Rugby

Connacht’s disappointing run of form continued as they fell to a 32-12 loss away to Ulster in the United Rugby Championship.

Connacht were under pressure from early on as winger Peter Sullivan, who just came back into the side, was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on Robert Baloucoune after just two minutes.

Their defence held firm until the 14th minute. Ulster full back Michael Lowry found a gap and offloaded the ball to Greg Jones to score in the corner. Nathan Doak converted the first try of the night.

Ulster had the momentum at this point and their second wasn’t long coming. Debutant Declan Moore, who was a late addition to the starting 15, peeled away from the maul to drive over the line. Doak converted to give Ulster a 14-point lead.

The game was in danger of slipping away from Connacht until they had their first try in the 24th minute. After some powerful carries from Conor Oliver, they spread the ball out wide to substitute Oran McNulty to dive in the corner. Conor Fitzgerald failed to score the conversion.

Connacht failed to build on their try and it was Ulster who would have the last say before half time. They got the ball out wide to Baloucoune, who used his pace to get past the Connacht defence for Ulster’s third try. Doak converted to give Ulster a 21-5 lead at the break.

Connacht started the second half brightly and were rewarded for their efforts in the 46th minute. Fitzgerald found a gap in the Ulster defence and offloaded to Alex Wotton for the try. Fitzgerald converted to make it a 12-point game.

However, similar to the first half, Connacht failed to build on their try, and it was Ulster applying the pressure through the second half.

Despite their large amount of possession, huge defence from Connacht, especially Cian Prendergast, kept Ulster at bay. Ulster were limited to two Doak penalties in their pursuit for the bonus point try.

Despite Connacht’s best efforts, Ulster finally got their fourth try in the 80th minute. Baloucoune collected Billy Burns cross field kick to grab his second try and secure a bonus point victory for Ulster.

Ulster: Michael Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, Angus Curtis, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak, Andrew Warwick, Declan Moore, Gareth Milasinovich, Alan O’Connor (captain), Sam Carter, Greg Jones, Marcus Rea, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Eric O’Sullivan, Callum Reid (Warwick, 67), Ross Kane (Milasinovich, 57), Mick Kearney (Carter, 73), Nick Timoney (Jones, 48), David Shanahan (Doak, 77), Ben Moxham (McCloskey, 77), Rob Lyttle (McIlroy, 54).

Connacht: John Porch, Peter Sullivan, Sammy Arnold, Tom Daly, Peter Alex Wotton, Conor Fitzgerald, Kieran Marmion, Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Tietie Tuimauga, Niall Murray, Oisin Dowling, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler.

Replacements: Johnny Murphy (Delahunt, 66), Jordan Duggan (Buckley 60), Greg McGrath, (Tuimauga, 48), Leva Fifita (Murray, 66), Paul Boyle (Butler, 66), Colm Reiley, Cathal Forde (Fitzgerald, 70), Oran McNulty (Sullivan, 14).  

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