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Ulster Ravens Edged Out By Moseley

Ulster Ravens Edged Out By Moseley

Adam Macklin and Darren Cave both returned from injury for Ulster Ravens, but the province let an early lead slip in their 26-24 British & Irish Cup defeat to Moseley at Ravenhill.

Wednesday afternoon's game was a good runout for the ravens despite the result. David Houston, Michael Heaney and Alan Whitten scored tries for Gary Longwell's side, while Adam Macklin and Darren Cave played for 55 and 40 minutes respectively.

Former Ulster and Ireland centre Kevin Maggs was back on familiar territory as part of the Moseley coaching staff. He is in his first season as coach of the Moseley backs.

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Speaking after the game, Longwell said: “We kept the ball well, which we talked about beforehand, and kept up a high tempo. We kept possession for large parts of the game.

“There were some very good individual performances. I thought Conor Gaston, in particular, had a really strong game. He's developed very well this year, a really physical player capable of breaking the tackle.

“It was great to see Adam Macklin and Darren Cave back from injury. It was important for those guys to come in and prove their fitness ahead of selection for the rest of Ulster's games. In terms of that, it was very pleasing.

“We all hate to lose, it's really disappointing. We're sitting here with another loss when it was a game we should have won. We had the chances to win the game and we didn't take them.

“But in terms of individual performances and guys coming back from injury, there were a few positives to take.”

Ulster Ravens dominated the scrums early on and won a penalty which allowed Niall O'Connor to put his side deep into Moseley territory.

From the lineout, the Ravens worked the ball through a number of phases before lock David Houston drove over the try-line. O'Connor missed the conversion.

After Moseley were penalised again at scrum time, the Birmingham side had prop Nathan Williams sin-binned and O'Connor split the posts with the penalty.

Lively scrum half Michael Heaney made a blindside break from a ruck and touched down in the right hand corner. O'Connor pushed his conversion attempt wide, but the Ravens still held a healthy 13-0 lead.

Just five minutes before half-time, on their first visit into the Ravens' 22, Moseley came away with a try from scrum half Ryan De La Harpe. Mark Evans fed De La Harpe who scored under the posts.

Full-back Oliver Thomas had the simple task of adding the extras. This gave Moseley confidence and a well-executed first phase move by their backs resulted in centre Andrew Reay adding a second try, which went unconverted.

13-12 ahead at the break, the gap remained at a single point for the Ravens as O'Connor and Thomas exchanged penalties.

Thomas then launched a counter attack after a loose Ravens kick and fed winger Nathan Bressington who finished the move off for a try.

Thomas hit the upright for the second time with his conversion attempt, but landed a long range penalty in the 67th minute to leave the score at 23-16 in Moseley's favour.

Ravens replacement prop Alan Whitten crashed over for a try after a great break from lock Neil McComb. Again the conversion was missed, but O'Connor kicked his third penalty to put Ravens 24-23 ahead with just two minutes remaining.

The Ulstermen were within touching distance of their second win in Pool C, with captain Robbie Diack leading by example.

However, after regaining possession from the restart, the Ravens were penalised for not releasing the ball on the ground and Thomas landed the decisive penalty for a last-gasp victory.

Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)