United Rugby Championship: Ulster complete double over Leinster with 18-13 win

Ulster’s Nathan Doak is tackled by Ed Byrne of Leinster
Ulster (18) 18
Tries: Carter, Lowry Cons: doak Tripe: dock 2
Leinster (10) 13
Tries: deegan Cons: R Byrne Tripe: R Byrne 2

Ulster beat Leinster 18-13 in the United Rugby Championship top-of-the-table clash to complete a season double over their interprovincial rivals.

Tries from Sam Carter and Michael Lowry helped Ulster to an 18-10 half-time lead, with Nathan Doak contributing eight points with the boot in Belfast.

Max Deegan crossed for Leinster and Ross Byrne also kicked eight points.

Leinster remain a point ahead of their opponents in the table after salvaging a losing bonus point from the game.

With Dan McFarland’s men having seen off the champions at the RDS in November, they have secured home and away victories over Leinster for the first time since 2012.

Ulster made it nine wins from nine outings at their Kingspan Stadium home this season by winning a match which was rescheduled after being postponed from New Year’s Day because of Covid-19 related issues.

Leinster were bereft of 13 internationals who were part of the Ireland squad which beat England in their Six Nations encounter at Twickenham while Ulster were boosted by the return to their starting line-up of two-try hero against Italy, Michael Lowry, and Duane Vermeulen as part of five changes from the side that defeated Cardiff†

Ulster got off to a flying start in a match played in incessant heavy rain as Sam Carter completed a period of intense pressure on the visitors’ line by diving over in the ninth minute.

Doak converted and after Byrne had booted over his first penalty, visiting number eight Max Deegan barged over just before the half hour mark, Byrne converting to make it 10-7.

Doak’s penalty leveled the scores, then five minutes before half-time the scrum-half played his part in a move involving Billy Burns and Robert Baloucoune which set up Lowry to cross for his side’s second touchdown.

A further penalty extended Ulster’s lead to eight points and as the atrocious conditions continued to deteriorate further making flowing rugby impossible, Byrne’s penalty proved to be the only points of the second half.

Ulster now prepare to travel to South Africa for matches against the Stormers and Bulls on 26 March and 2 April.

Ulster coach Dan McFarland told Premier Sports after the game: “We’re really pleased with the result – we had to dig in and although we weren’t at our best we scored two really good tries.

“Leinster played with great intensity and put us under a lot of pressure at times.”

Ulster: lowry; Baloucoune, S Moore, McCloskey, Gilroy; Burns, Doak; Warwick, Andrew, M Moore; Carter, A O’Connor (capt); Timoney, Marcus Rea, Vermeulen.

Replacements: Stewart, O’Sullivan, Milasinovich, Mick Kearney, Murphy, Cooney, Madigan, Moxham.

Leinster: J O’Brien; A Byrne, O’Loughlin, Osborne, T O’Brien; R Byrne, McGrath (capt); E Byrne, J Tracy, M Ala’alatoa; Molony, McCarthy; Ruddock, Penny, Deegan.

Replacements: Cronin, Dooley, Clarkson, Toner, Leavy, N McCarthy, Hawkshaw, Moloney

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