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Ulster ‘A’ Begin Cup Campaign With Hard-Fought Home Win
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Ulster ‘A’ Begin Cup Campaign With Hard-Fought Home Win

Ulster ‘A’ Begin Cup Campaign With Hard-Fought Home Win

Sam Windsor’s 51st-minute try and 14 points from the boot of Johnny McPhillips saw Ulster ‘A’ fend off the dogged challenge of Jersey Reds in the opening game of the British & Irish Cup tonight.

On a cool but calm evening at Shaw's Bridge, there was nothing between the teams in the early exchanges as the visitors set their stall out with some heavy collisions and kept play restricted to the middle third.

It took 10 minutes for either side to make an impression on the scoreboard as a rolling maul brought Ulster 'A' deep into opposition territory for the first time. The Jersey defence had no choice but to concede the penalty, which full-back Johnny McPhillips slotted over from just right of the posts.

The Reds wasted no time in pegging back when Sam Katz responded in kind just two minutes later. The out-half then had another opportunity from 35 metres out but saw his effort tail to the left.

On 19 minutes, however, Katz made no mistake from closer range to put Jersey in front, for what would prove to be the only time in the game.

Ulster 'A' centre Sam Windsor made the first open break of the game as the second quarter began. He released man-of-the-match Aaron Cairns on the left wing, but the Ballynahinch clubman was stopped just short of the line.

McPhillips added another penalty on 28 minutes to level the sides as Ulster 'A', including returning winger Tommy Bowe, continued to be frustrated by the rugged Jersey defence.

Five minutes before the break, Windsor latched on to a misplaced pass and booted through for Cairns to chase, but the bounce of the ball denied the winger a run-in.

For the rest of the first half Ulster 'A' controlled possession and several phases of abrasive carries forced another penalty that McPhillips slotted over to send the province in 9-6 ahead at half-time.

McPhillips opened the second half scoring with a 45th minute penalty before Windsor got over for the only try on 51 minutes, courtesy of a perfectly weighted kick through that he chased himself and slid over. McPhillips added the extras to put daylight between the sides at 19-6.

It looked like Ulster 'A' would kick on and widen the gap but, despite controlling possession throughout the final quarter, they were unable to breach a Jersey defence that battled gamely right to the final whistle.

Next up for Willie Anderson and Kieran Campbell's charges is the trip to London Scottish for round 2 of the British & Irish Cup. Kick-off is 2.30pm next Saturday at the Athletic Ground.

Referee: Dewi Phillips (Wales)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Johnny McPhillips; Tommy Bowe, Sam Windsor, Mark Best, Aaron Cairns; Brett Herron, Dave Shanahan; Jonny Simpson, John Andrew, Ricky Lutton, Dan Tuohy (capt), Kieran Treadwell, Stephen Mulholland, Conor Joyce, Lorcan Dow.

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Tom O'Hagan, John Donnan, Nick Timoney, Angus Lloyd, Callum Smith, Conor Kelly.

Away Team

Jack Cuthbert, George Watkins, Jordan Davies, George Eastwell, Rich Lane; Sam Katz, Joel Dudley; Sean McCarthy, Jack Macfarlane, Mark Tampin, Nick Campbell, James Voss, James Freeman (capt), James Doyle, Nick Haining.

Replacements: Nick Selway, Jake Woolmore, Jake Armstrong, Uili Kolo'ofa'i, Max Argyle; Sami Fisilau, Lewis Robling.

Match Scorers

Home Team

Try: Sam Windsor; Con: Johnny McPhillips; Pens: Johnny McPhillips 4

Away Team

Pens: Sam Katz 2