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Ulster Ravens Out Of The Running

Ulster Ravens Out Of The Running

The Ulster Ravens are out of contention in this season’s British & Irish Cup after suffering their third successive defeat in Pool C – a 29-11 loss to London Welsh at Old Deer Park.

The Ulster Ravens' hopes of bettering last season's run through to the British & Irish Cup semi-finals, or at least matching it, were ended by English Championship side London Welsh on Saturday.

A second half try from full-back Tommy Seymour was the highlight of a disappointing display from the Ravens, whose defence let them down on a number of occasions.

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The Ravens opened the scoring after Seymour slipped three tackles to take play into the London Welsh 22. The hosts' defence recovered but with advantage being played, out-half Paddy Jackson kicked the visitors ahead.

Gary Longwell's men were moving well and Mark McCrea collected his own chip, but Jackson's cross-field kick was just overcooked for his Dungannon club-mate Craig Gilroy.

London Welsh's Aled Thomas missed the chance to level things up with his penalty attempt drifting narrowly wide, but the home side soon opened their account.

From a scrum inside the Ulster 22, centre Paul Mackey crashed the ball up the middle, only to be met by a good tackle from Luke Marshall.

But when Welsh spread the ball wide, centre Dominic Shabbo had the strength to cut inside and force his way over for the first try.

The Ravens immediately threatened when McCrea and Marshall combined nicely down Welsh's left. However, Ulster were left frustrated when good work on the ground saw the home side win a penalty and clear the danger.

With the game beginning to open up, number 8 Lee Beach slipped out of a tackle and good hands by Mackey, Shabbo, Thomas and Liam Gibson ended with Ulster caught offside.

Thomas' penalty attempt struck the right hand post, but Ulster knocked on and compounded that with an accidental offside to allow Welsh to set up a good attacking position.

The Londoners opted for the scrum and it brought an instant reward as Ravens flanker David McGuigan was yellow carded and Shabbo squeezed over for his second from Waisea Luveniyali's pass.

London Welsh changed their kicker with out-half Luveniyali taking over from Thomas, but it failed to change the home side's luck with the boot.

Welsh made their extra man count again though, as Luveniyali released Beach to charge up field, and Rob Lewis slipped inside the tackle of Conor Carey to touch down.

At the fourth time of asking, Luveniyali eventually ended Welsh's shyness in front of the posts to stretch the home side's lead to 17-6.

Jackson responded with his second penalty but the Dragons were soon back on the attack and wrapped up the bonus point when scrum half Lewis crossed for his second try.

Shawn Pittman rumbled his way into the Ulster 22 before Josh Drauniniu weaved through a couple of tackles and Lewis was in support to finish from close range. Luveniyali's conversion attempt bounced back off the woodwork.

McGuigan returned to the pitch as Ulster pressed late on, but in his absence Welsh had crucially outscored the visitors by 17-3.

Jackson kicked for the corner from in front of the Welsh posts, but on this occasion fortune did not favour the brave as Niall Annettt's lineout throw was adjudged not straight to leave the visitors trailing by 22-6 at the break.

Welsh would struggle to recapture their fluency of the second quarter and the Ulster Ravens were given further impetus when Dragons prop Will Johnson saw yellow.

Just like Welsh in the first half, the Ravens took immediate advantage as McCrea sent Seymour over to touch down by the posts.

Unlike Welsh, though, Ulster could take no further advantage of their extra man and indeed it was the home side that threatened a fifth try when Corker suddenly broke free to gallop into the Ulster 22, only for the lock to lack support.

With Welsh back up to full strength, James Lewis was penalised for holding on in the tackle, but Niall O'Connor's kick for goal, with 11 minutes remaining, was wide.

Welsh sent their supporters home happy when Dan Williams's half-break was taken on by Pittman and Beach touched down in the corner. Thomas added the conversion.

The Ravens almost had the last word but Seymour was denied a second try. Gilroy showed a blistering turn of pace and fed the ball to the supporting Seymour, when referee Neil Hennessy blew for a forward pass.

Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)