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News article – Style E 4817

News article – Style E 4817

Ulster coach Mark McCall is “hopeful” David Humphreys can shake off a calf injury in time for the province’s Celtic League opener on September 9.

Ulster and Ireland number 10 David Humphreys

Ulster coach Mark McCall is “hopeful” David Humphreys can shake off a calf injury in time for the province’s Celtic League opener on September 9.

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PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY: Friday, August 26

Ulster 42 Rotherham Titans 15, Ravenhill

Scorers: Ulster: Tries: Neil McMillan 2, Neil Best, Andrew Trimble, David Humphreys, Rowan Frost; Cons: Paul Steinmetz 2, David Humphreys 3, Paddy Wallace

Rotherham: Tries: Hendre Fourie, Louis McGowan; Con: Mike Whitehead; Pen: Whitehead

McCall watched his charges come from behind three times on Friday night to see off plucky National Division One side Rotherham, but the major talking point was the calf injury that Humphreys seemed to aggravate in the second half.

In front of 3,500 spectators, Humphreys came on as a second half substitute, with Ulster having receiving clearance from the IRFU for the release of the Ireland star at the eleventh hour. Yet Ireland’s record points scorer was forced off the field on 68 minutes.

“Somebody landed on the back of the calf in a tackle, which was a trauma rather than a pull which is good news,” said McCall of Humphreys’ injury.

“Time will tell but we are fairly hopeful that he will be ready for Cardiff (in two weeks’ time).”

Making his first start for Ulster since undergoing major knee surgery last October, flanker Neil McMillan stole the show at Ravenhill, scoring two tries and making a firm statement on his fitness and form.

Neil Best, substitute Andrew Trimble, Humphreys and back Rowan Frost, one of twelve replacements used by McCall, all touched down, with Paul Steinmetz, Humphreys and Paddy Wallace adding the conversions.

Rotherham flanker Hendre Fourie and lock Louis McGowan, formerly of Belfast Harlequins, grabbed tries for the visitors as they trailed 14-12 at the break.

Four second half tries saw Ulster stretch clear however, with Humphreys’ limping-off the only sour note. The province’s youngsters Ryan Caldwell, Paul Marshall, Chris Henry and Oisin Hennessey all made their debuts by the finish.

Ulster’s next outing os their first competitive one of the season – their League opener against Cardiff at the Arms Park on Friday, September 9 (kick-off 7.10pm, live Setanta Sports).

ULSTER: Bryn Cunningham; James Topping, Jonathan Bell, Paul Steinmetz, Scott Young; Paddy Wallace, Reece Spee; Bryan Young, Rory Best, Declan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Caldwell, Justin Harrison, Neil Best, Neil McMillan, Campbell Feather (Capt).

Replacements used: Andrew Maxwell for Topping, Andrew Trimble for Bell, Kevin Maggs for Steinmetz, David Humphreys for Wallace, Justin Fitzpatrick for Young (all half-time), Rowan Frost for Caldwell, Paul Marshall for Spee (both 48 mins), Nigel Brady for N Best (55), Paddy Wallace for Humphreys (68), Shane Stewart for Young (71), Henry Head for Harrison (75), Oisin Hennessey for McMillan, Chris Henry for Feather (both 76).

ROTHERHAM: Errie Claasens; David Strettle, Lee Blackett, WP Strauss, Anthony Carter; Mike Whitehead, Joe Bedford; Jarleth Carey, Neil Hanna, Attie Pienaar, Rob Walton, Louis McGowan, Hendre Fourie, Neil Cochrane, Scott Donald.

Replacements: Adam Hopcroft, Jon Golding, Gareth McComb, Ben Wade, Michael Kirkwood, Greg Mitchell, Tom Allen.

Referee: David Keane (IRFU)