Ulster Ravens registered a 17-7 win over Connacht ‘A’ in a typically physical interprovincial encounter at Deramore Park on Wednesday evening.
‘A’ INTERPROVINCIAL MATCH: Wednesday, March 7
ULSTER RAVENS 17 CONNACHT ‘A’ 7, Deramore Park
Scorers: Ulster Ravens: Try: Luke Marshall; Pens: James McKinney 4
Connacht ‘A’: Try: Penalty try; Con: Jack Carty
Ulster Ravens boss Gary Longwell named an inexperienced side for the match but will have been impressed by the composure they showed throughout.
The hosts started strongly and dominated the opening exchanges, allowing out-half James McKinney to slot over two early penalties.
While Connacht ‘A’ gradually worked their way back into the game, their indiscipline proved costly as McKinney kicked two further penalties to put his side 12-0 up at the break.
Connacht ‘A’ responded well at the start of the second half and after a sustained period of pressure, they were rewarded with a penalty try following a series of scrums. Jack Carty was left with a simple conversion to reduce the arrears to 12-7.
McKinney missed a penalty attempt shortly after but the decisive score arrived on the hour mark thanks to a piece of magic by Luke Marshall.
The young Ravens centre collected the ball on halfway and attacked the blindside, beating several defenders in an arcing run before touching down in the corner. McKinney was unable to land the touchline conversion, leaving it 17-7.
Longwell was pleased with how his team performed, admitting afterwards: “We are pretty happy with the performance tonight. We played some good rugby and there were a number of excellent individual displays, which ultimately contributed to a good win.
“It was an important opportunity for some of the club players to come in and experience a slightly higher level of rugby, and they did well.”
ULSTER RAVENS: Ricky Andrew; Conor Gaston, Michael Allen (capt), Luke Marshall, Chris Quinn; James McKinney, Paddy Farrell; Richard Lutton, John Burns, Conor Carey, Michael Shiels, David Houston, Conor Joyce, Dominic Gallagher, Neil Faloon.
Replacements: Andrew Warwick, Michael Cromie, Stephen Mulholland, Paul Pritchard, Andrew Semple, Johnny Burgess, Taylor Acheson.
CONNACHT ‘A’: Callum Boland; Matt Dever, Brian Murphy, Tadhg Leader, Mark McCrea; Jack Carty, Dave Moore; Denis Buckley, Kevin O’Byrne, Stewart Maguire, Brian Moylett, Michael Kearney, David Heffernan, Eoghan Grace (capt), Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: Stevie Collins, Finlay Bealham, Peter Borlase, Conor Kindregan, Isaac O’Grady, Marcus Walsh, Darragh Leader, Conor Fitzgibbon.
Referee: Mark Patton (IRFU)