Ulster ‘A’ defied some stormy weather conditions and a stubborn Connacht side to pull off a deserved 33-26 victory in Tuesday’s ‘A’ Interprovincial encounter at Enniskillen RFC.
‘A’ INTERPROVINCIAL MATCH: Tuesday, March 11
ULSTER ‘A’ 33 CONNACHT ‘A’ 26, Enniskillen RFC
Hailed as a “really good work-out” for his side, Ulster ‘A’ manager Gary Longwell was pleased that the hosts were able to see out the win after turning around at the break with a 26-5 lead.
Ulster ‘A’ started with a very strong wind at their backs and Kieran Hallett, who stood in at out-half for late withdrawal David Humphreys, was able to use the elements to kick Connacht downfield and keep the hosts in sight of the try line.
They got over after barely two minutes when industrious scrum half Paul Marshall sniped over from close range. Mark McCrea, who has burst into the Ulster team this season, launched an excellent counter attack some moments later, coming off his right wing and gaining good ground before centre Paul McKenzie was put through for a second try.
Ulster ‘A’ built up a considerable lead with the addition of a penalty try off a collapsed scrum and number 8 Roger Wilson, who is leaving to play for Northampton Saints next season, also touched down just before half-time.
Connacht bounced back into the second half, turning with the wind. The westerners, with nine Galwegians clubmen in their starting line-up, came more and more into the game with Tim Donnelly, Keith Matthews and Liam Bibo doing well in the backs and David Gannon and Colm Rigney part of a very combative back row.
In all, the visitors scored four tries through replacement scrum half Conor McPhillips, lock Andrew Browne and flanker Liam Casserly, who topped off his energetic display with two touchdowns.
However, a second try for the speedy Marshall – probably the best score of the evening – put the seal on the win for Ulster ‘A’, for whom Academy hooker David McGregor was one of the stand-out players.