Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ulster back on track

Mark Anscombe’s men have recovered well from defeat to the Scarlets, writes Krisitan Ross…

Kristian Ross avatar

A flurry of activity has cascaded over Ravenhill in the last three weeks. The ground’s new stand starting to take shape, the return of Paddy Wallace, the injury that will keep Stuart Olding out for the season, Tommy Bowe sustaining yet another knock as well as Rory Best being unavailable until 2014, but there was something positive to take out of it all… three Ulster Rugby wins.

Ulster bounced back from their Scarlets defeat on November 22nd with an assured performance against Edinburgh Rugby in Belfast. In a game that Ulster on paper were unlikely to lose, the nine county province swept aside the Scottish outfit in superb fashion, with two tries from Craig Gilroy on his return in a white jersey, one from Paul Marshall following some deft footwork, another from captain for the evening Robbie Diack and one from youngster James McKinney. And it was McKinney who showed exceptional talent on the night producing a faultless kicking performance that wouldn't have looked out of place in a All Blacks side. Darren Cave also excelled and once again raised a hand as to why he would be a great contender for thirteen come Ireland’s Six Nations campaign.

Cave led the way the following week as he scored the only try of the game in Parma as Ulster travelled to take on Zebre in Italy. People often write Zebre off, but a few pundits and I myself know they can cause problems at home and they do produce a stellar performance at times, physical, aggressive and hungry at the break down. The bottom line was their undisciplined second half performance led to a few easy penalties that Paddy Jackson was able to knock over without any real bother and Ulster claimed a 19-12 victory. However head coach Mark Anscome wasn't happy with the performance, and you could see why, last year’s PRO12 finalists looked very lacklusture in the opening twenty minutes before finally kicking into gear.

The Italian theme continued and this weekend we were treated to the second match of the season against Benetton Treviso at Ravenhill. Treviso have became a bogey team for Ulster over the last few years, they were the first team ever to win on Irish soil and last year claimed a draw at Ravenhill in the dying seconds. But the hoodoo seems to have been lifted, after a thumping win over them September, Ulster carried on their winning run with a huge victory. On a weekend that saw all four provinces when in the Heineken Cup, fans would see their Ulster team produce an incredibly clinical attacking display and a highly astute defensive performance that saw seven tries grounded, two from Luke Marshall, one from Paddy Jackson who converted five of the seven scores, another from departing prop John Afoa, a good score for Sean Doyle who clearly enjoyed the entire match judging by some very interesting facial expressions and to add to the tally Andrew Trimble got over with a superb effort to take his tries in the Heineken Cup to an impressive twenty two.

Following the Italian Job Part Three, Ulster Rugby have to look forward to part four and five in the next few weeks with the return fixture against Treviso in the Heineken Cup coming up this weekend and Zebre Rugby attempting revenge for the defeat earlier this month when they return to Ravenhill just before Christmas.

They’ve been poor opponents, but Anscombe wont be too fussed, the job has been done, the festive period is here. Santa wears red and white… maybe he’s an Ulster fan?

I'm Kristian. 19. And my mind is filled with rugby shaped thoughts. Supporting Ulster Rugby, Newcastle Falcons and of course the mighty Ireland. Tommy Bowe is the MAN !!!! SUFTUM.

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