The Leinster Under-18 Schools team burst out of the traps in their first PwC Interprovincial outing of the season, as they handed hosts Ulster a 45-12 beating at Newforge.
PWC IRFU UNDER-18 MEN’S SCHOOLS INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 3: Saturday, September 4
ULSTER U-18 SCHOOLS 12 LEINSTER U-18 SCHOOLS 45, Newforge, Belfast
Scorers: Ulster U-18 Schools: Tries: Lukas Kenny 2; Con: Ben McFarlane
Leinster U-18 Schools: Tries: Hugo McLaughlin, Ruben Moloney, Lucas Maguire, Jules Fenelon 2, David Colbert, Tadhg Brophy; Cons: Jack Murphy 5
HT: Ulster U-18 Schools 0 Leinster U-18 Schools 31
Following the recent postponement of their clash with Munster, Leinster were eager to get going and ran in five tries – including two from impressive winger Jules Fenelon – to lead 31-0 at half-time.
A Lukas Kenny brace saw Ulster rally at 38-12, but Leinster replacement Tadhg Brophy touched down in the final play to seal a 33-point winning margin.
Coached by Jonathan Gillespie, the Ulster Schools brought momentum into this game following last week’s three-try 22-15 victory over Munster at the IRFU High Performance Centre.
Back on home soil, they struggled for territory early on and Leinster struck in the sixth minute, a free-flowing back-line move seeing Fenelon put fellow winger Hugo McLaughlin over in the left corner.
Pres Bray’s Jack Murphy missed the difficult conversion, but it was a strong start from Leinster who had captain Stephen Smith to thank for winning the initial turnover penalty which set up the attack.
Out-half Murphy showed some nice touches, including a 50:22 kick, and it was his inside pass which sent Fenelon scurrying through from 30 metres out. Supporting full-back Ruben Moloney finished off behind the posts.
Murphy converted for a 12-0 lead, and just when Ulster – with number 8 Flynn Longstaff standing out in the physical exchanges – looked to be building a decent platform, the visitors struck again.
Midway through the first half, busy hooker Zac Solomon broke menacingly from an Ulster maul, combining with fellow front rower Jacob Boyd to bring the Leinster 22 within reach.
However, Tom Crowther’s attempted kick through failed to come off – under pressure from Murphy – and Inigo Cruise O’Brien scooped up the ball to embark on a surging 70-metre break downfield.
Ulster full-back Conor Drain did brilliantly to race back and haul him down just short of the line, but Luke Kritzinger’s quick clearout gave incoming hooker Lucas Maguire the opportunity to dive over near the posts. Murphy converted from close range.
Solomon led Ulster’s response, breaking down the left touchline from a deft Drain offload, only for a subsequent Harry Hughes knock-on to add to the home side’s growing frustration.
A solid set-piece platform allowed Andy Skehan’s Leinster team to dictate approaching the interval. Numbers on the right saw Kritzinger send Fenelon over for an unconverted bonus point effort.
Fenelon squeezed in his second score in the dying seconds, slipping past a tackle near the right touchline. Murphy was bang on target with a terrific conversion from out wide.
Ulster enjoyed better territory on the restart, helped by Josh Stevens’ hard graft at the breakdown and some further Leinster indiscipline. They missed out on a try when centre Matthew Booth was held up.
Despite Leinster tighthead Andrew Sparrow being sin-binned for a high tackle on Joe Hopes, Ulster leaked seven more points.
From his own kick through, replacement David Colbert followed up to score for the visitors after Hughes had taken the ball over his own line.
Into the final 10 minutes, replacement Kenny sparked an Ulster resurgence by sidestepping through for an unconverted try. The Campbell College back added an even better second score, shrugging off three would-be tacklers on his way to the line.
The home pack did the donkey work, earning a penalty advantage from a lineout drive in the Leinster 22, and fellow replacement Ben McFarlane converted from close in.
Nonetheless, it was Leinster who had the final say, Newbridge College’s Brophy snapping up a loose pass from Tristan Ferguson to dash in by the posts. Murphy tagged on his fifth successful conversion.
ULSTER U-18 SCHOOLS: Conor Drain (Ballymena Academy); Harry Hughes (Coleraine GS), Ryan Stewart (RBAI), Matthew Booth (Campbell College), Jamie Beattie (RBAI); Tom Crowther (Campbell College), Jonny McCracken (Campbell College); Reece Braden (Omagh Academy), Zac Solomon (Campbell College), Jacob Boyd (RBAI), Joe Hopes (Campbell College), Patrick Fullarton-Healey (Methodist College) (capt), James Anderson (RS Armagh), Josh Stevens (Methodist College), Flynn Longstaff (Campbell College).
Replacements: Jake Bowden (Methodist College), Ethan Fitzsimmons (Down HS), Josh Hanna (Wallace HS), Andrew Chesney (Ballymena Academy), Callum Simms (RBAI), Ben McFarlane (Methodist College), Tristan Ferguson (Cambridge House GS), Lukas Kenny (Campbell College), Alex McBurney (Ballymena Academy), Ben King (Coleraine GS), Chris Massey (Campbell College).
LEINSTER U-18 SCHOOLS: Ruben Moloney (Blackrock College); Jules Fenelon (St. Michael’s College), Luke Kritzinger (Blackrock College), Wilhelm de Klerk (St. Michael’s College), Hugo McLaughlin (Gonzaga College); Jack Murphy (Presentation College Bray), Oliver Coffey (Blackrock College); Tom Stewart (St. Michael’s College), Lucas Maguire (Catholic University School), Andrew Sparrow (St. Mary’s College), Michael Colreavy (Blackrock College), Alex Mullan (Blackrock College), Stephen Smith (Kilkenny College) (capt), Inigo Cruise O’Brien (Blackrock College), Richard Whelan (Cistercian College Roscrea).
Replacements: Karl Brennan (Belvedere College), Max Duggan (Clongowes Wood College), Ben Howard (St. Michael’s College), Alan Spicer (Belvedere College), Tom Brigg (Blackrock College), Tadhg Brophy (Newbridge College), Sean Naughton (Kilkenny College), David Colbert (Gonzaga College).