McFar­land to take over at Ul­ster to­day

Province’s young guns hold their own against Glouces­ter de­spite de­feat

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Sports -

Ul­ster 17 Glouces­ter 29

Even though the re­sult went against them, there was still some feel good fac­tor for Ul­ster as they ramp-up prepa­ra­tions for what could be an­other chal­leng­ing sea­son.

First up, the province have con­firmed that head coach Dan McFar­land will start work to­day af­ter man­ag­ing to get an early re­lease from his con­tract with Scot­land.

Re­gard­ing the game, there were some notably at­ten­tion-grab­bing per­for­mances from the raft of young play­ers Ul­ster de­ployed at the Kingspan Sta­dium for the province’s open­ing pre-sea­son ven­ture.

A host of them were mak­ing their se­nior bows with 17-year-old Aaron Sex­ton - also a no­table ath­lete – be­ing in­volved along with Michael Lowry, Stewart Moore, James Hume and An­gus Ker­nohan all mak­ing de­cent im­pres­sions in a typ­i­cally scrappy clash which saw both sides in­volve ex­tended squads.

Though as­sis­tant coach Dwayne Peel made it clear that Fri­day’s last friendly out­ing at Wasps will see some­thing more akin to the team likely to fea­ture in their Pro14 opener at home to the Scar­lets – with Stu­art McCloskey, Johnny McPhillips and, hope­fully, Mar­cell Coet­zee all in the frame to be in­volved – he rightly praised the ef­forts of the young play­ers.

‘Un­der pres­sure’

“I think they didn’t let them­selves down,” said Peel.

“They worked re­ally hard for us and there were el­e­ments of the game that were re­ally good. We put a pretty ex­pe­ri­enced Glouces­ter side un­der pres­sure on oc­ca­sions and it was a good hit out.

“It’s good to get some learn­ings from the game, and that’s what we said to them af­ter the game, we asked for hard work and to have a bit of spark about our­selves, and I think we de­liv­ered that,” Peel added.

There were also de­buts for new sign­ings Billy Burns – against his for­mer club – as well as Marty Moore and Will Ad­di­son. Burns, a sec­ond half sub, wor­ry­ingly limped off not long af­ter com­ing on in what was Chris Henry’s tes­ti­mo­nial game.

David Humphreys’ Glouces­ter – mi­nus Danny Cipri­ani – led 14-12 af­ter the open­ing half through tries from for­mer Mun­ster player Ger­brandt Grob­ler and Owen Wil­liams while Ul­ster had also crossed twice through Mar­cus Rea and Nick Ti­money.

Char­lie Sharples got Glouces­ter’s third try shortly af­ter the restart – which saw both sides make ex­ten­sive changes – but Ul­ster closed the gap af­ter Sex­ton linked well with Hume to put the lat­ter over.

From there, the vis­i­tors, with Billy Twel­ve­trees and Matt Bana­han mak­ing an im­pact, man­aged to fin­ish with a flour­ish as Todd Gleave and Henry Purdy dot­ted down with the lat­ter’s ef­fort com­ing in the last minute.

Dan McFar­land: re­leased early from con­tract with Scot­tish Rugby

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