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Lyttle Scores Late Brace In Ulster Defeat

Lyttle Scores Late Brace In Ulster Defeat

Ulster went down 25-19 to hosts Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park despite two late tries from lively Hughes Insurance Academy back Robert Lyttle.

PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY: Saturday, August 20


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Scorers: Exeter Chiefs: Tries: Don Armand, Will Chudley, Damian Welch, Penalty try; Con: Henry Slade; Pen: Henry Slade
Ulster: Tries: Jacob Stockdale, Robert Lyttle 2; Cons: Ruan Pienaar, Johnny McPhillips

Les Kiss’ men fell 18 points behind before the late cameo by Robert Lyttle, with Ireland Under-20 star Jacob Stockdale scoring the other try in an entertaining pre-season fixture.

The match proved to be a good hit-out for Ulster’s young guns, with others such as Matthew Rea and David Busby also putting in promising shifts after their introductions in the second half.

It was a slow start for Ulster, Don Armand scoring within 60 seconds for the hosts. He crashed over after a fine break and pass by former Ulster centre Ian Whitten, the eventual man-of-the-match. Another Ulsterman – Exeter captain Gareth Steenson – was unable to convert in blustery conditions.

The Ulster response was almost immediate. A midfield penalty was kicked to within five metres of the Chiefs’ try-line and that provided the perfect platform for the backs to excel. Quick lineout ball allowed Darren Cave to make inroads into the defensive line, and Brett Herron capitalised on the quick recycle to execute a clever kick in behind for winger Stockdale to touch down. Ruan Pienaar made the touchline conversion look easy to push Ulster ahead on the scoreboard.

Scrum half Will Chudley crossed the whitewash on the 20-minute mark to push his side into a 10-7 lead – Steenson again off target with his conversion attempt.

Pienaar had a long range penalty effort just before the interval, but the South African scrum half’s kick fell agonisingly short of the target.

England international Henry Slade, a half-time replacement for Steenson at out-half, pushed Exeter 13-7 ahead with a well-struck 44th minute penalty.

Soon after, slick handling from the home back-line resulted in a try for second row Damian Welch in the right hand corner. Slade missed the opportunity to extend the lead further but his team had an 18-7 advantage going into the final quarter.

Exeter were buoyed by that score and continued to play some free-flowing rugby. Eventually, the pressure told, but it came from the power of the forwards – a penalty try from scrum infringements – rather than through their potent backs. Slade’s simple conversion widened the gap to 25-7.

Ulster made numerous changes and one of those, the introduction of Lyttle, had an immediate impact. The winger was on the pitch for little more than 60 seconds when he got on the end of a cross-field kick from Johnny McPhillips to touch down for an unconverted score in the 70th minute.

Lyttle then scored the try of the game just moments later. He collected the ball along the left touchline and scorched past a couple of defenders before rounding the full-back to dot down under the posts.

McPhillips added the extras to reduce the deficit to 25-19 and although Kiss’ charges continued to push for a fourth try at the death, the well-drilled Exeter defence stood firm.

EXETER CHIEFS – FIRST HALF:  Lachie Turner; Olly Woodburn, Max Bodilly, Sam Hill, Ian Whitten; Gareth Steenson (capt), Will Chudley; Alec Hepburn, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tomas Francis, Mitch Lees, Damian Welch, Dave Ewers, Julian Salvi, Don Armand.

SECOND HALF: Phil Dollman; Matt Jess, Max Bodilly, Ollie Devoto, James Short; Henry Slade, Dave Lewis; Alec Hepburn, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tomas Francis, Mitch Lees, Damian Welch, Dave Ewers, Julian Salvi, Don Armand.

Replacements: Elvis Taione, Ben Moon, Moray Low, Ollie Atkins, Dave Dennis, Jack Maunder, Will Hooley, Pete Laverick. Extras: Harry Williams, Jack Yeandle, Greg Holmes, Geoff Parling, Ben White, Thomas Waldrom?.

ULSTER: Charles Piutau; Louis Ludik, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Brett Herron, Ruan Pienaar; Callum Black, Rob Herring (capt), Rodney Ah You, Peter Browne, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Clive Ross, Roger Wilson.

Replacements used: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Andrew Warwick, Jonny Simpson, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Stephen Mulholland, Paul Marshall, Johnny McPhillips, Sam Windsor, Mark Best, David Busby, Robert Lyttle.