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Ulster Ravens Enjoy Bonus Point Success

Ulster Ravens Enjoy Bonus Point Success

Ulster Ravens exacted revenge for last weekend’s defeat at Ayr by scoring six tries in a 38-21 bonus point victory at Deramore Park.

Allen Clarke's side have given themselves hope of progressing to the quarter-finals as they move up to second in Pool 6 before Jersey host Cornish Pirates on Saturday.

Ulster Ravens finish the campaign with an away trip to Jersey in the New Year before finishing at home to the Pirates who currently lead the pool.

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The home side had the game and the bonus point wrapped up by half-time on Friday night as they outscored Ayr by five tries to one in a clinical first half display.

The Ravens made an early statement of intent when full-back Ricky Andrew broke through before being bundled into touc. But winger Peter Nelson duly opened the scoring for the hosts on six minutes.

Flanker Conor Joyce made a break through midfield, he flicked the ball to hooker Paul Jackson and it was moved to out-half James McKinney who provided the scoring pass to Nelson but missed the conversion.

Joyce scored the Ravens' second try just four minutes later. Prop Kyle McCall drove to the line and when he was stopped, the ball was quickly recycled and the Ireland Under-20 back rower went over from close range with McKinney converting.

Centre Stuart McCloskey went over for the Ulstermen's third try on 23 minutes. McCall drove the ball forward again, McKinney spun it wide and McCloskey used his power to hold off two defenders and barge over with McKinney converting.

Clarke's charges wrapped the bonus point up on the half hour mark with a try from Andrew. Centre Paddy Wallace broke through midfield and offloaded out of the tackle to Andrew and he ran under the posts to make McKinney's conversion a formality.

Ayr got their first try with 33 minutes on the clock, centre Finn Russell breaking down the right wing and flipping the ball inside to flanker James Eddie who powered over with out-half Scott Wight adding the conversion.

Scrum half Michael Heaney, playing at his home ground, got the Ravens' fifth try four minutes before the break when Ayr failed to control the ball at the back of the scrum and Heaney picked up and went over. McKinney converted to give the Ravens a 33-7 lead at the interval.

The province's fifth and final try arrived in the 52nd minute, and it was created by a slick handling move from the backs.

The ball was spun wide where Andrew flicked it over his head to his Ballymena club-mate Adrian Hamilton and the number 8 finished off in the corner. McKinney was off target with the conversion.

Entering the final quarter the Ravens discipline let them down as the fit-again Wallace was sin-binned for not rolling away from the tackle and Joyce soon followed him after a flair up at a scrum.

Ayr made their numerical advantage count with a try from replacement prop Gordon Reid.

Centre Robbie Ferguson darted through and had a two man over-lap on his outside but was dragged down close to the line. The Scottish pack quickly recycled the ball and Reid powered over from close range.

Wight chipped home the conversion from a tight angle, and Ayr added respectability to the scoreline with the final play of the game with their third try.

They won a penalty and kicked for the corner. From the resulting lineout they executed a catch and drive move, and replacement hooker Finlay Gillies went over from close range with Wight tagging on the extras.

Referee: David Procter (England)