Ulster make massive statement as they out-gun Leinster in Dublin
LEINSTER 10-20 ULSTER
Well now, well now. Ulster have sent a big statement to the rest of the United Rugby Championship by defeating champions Leinster at The RDS.
Nick Timoney and Matty Rea typified the visitor's physicality and fight as they combined for two turnovers apiece and held Leinster's feet to the fire.
Dan McFarland's side were far superior in the first half but only went in 7-0 up at the break. Greg Jones - one of several former Leinster players wearing white this evening - got over for the Ulster try after James Hume made a big carry up the right wing.
John Cooney converted that score but missed two penalty attempts and many Leinster fans would have expected their side to get into gear in the second half.
The hosts did up the tempo and cut down their errors in the second 40, and a fine Robbie Henshaw try made it a three-point game as we headed into the final half an hour.
Smart finish from Henshaw gets Leinster back in it pic.twitter.com/LIWCpmSfwr
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) November 27, 2021
James Hume clinches it for Ulster
Nathan Doak replaced Cooney for the final quarter and he cooly slotted a penalty that made it 13-10. Leinster pressed forward but Ulster's defence was impressive. Matty Rea stepped up with two turnovers while Rob Lyttle, playing in his first game of the season, won his side another.
Will Connors was on for Leinster, in his first game in nine months, and both he and Scott Penny made vital turnovers, but some sloppiness in possession and poor kicks from Harry Byrne scuppered momentum.
With some Leinster players forcing it in the closing stages, Tommy O'Brien's ambitious pass to Max Deegan was picked off by James Hume. He ran in that intercept for the match-winning try.
Asked by RTE, post-match, if defence coach Jared Payne's hand-prints were all over the Ulster game, Hume revealed that both Payne and fellow coach Dan Soper missed training this week, due to Covid.
"This was very much player-led," said Hume.
Long may it continue, Ulster fans will hope.
Our Man of the Match: Nick Timoney (Ulster)