Stockdale wings in to give Ulster Euro boost
CONNACHT’S hopes of a first win in Belfast since 1960 were dashed when Jacob Stockdale got through for the key score at Kingspan Stadium.
Appropriately, Irish coach Joe Schmidt was watching on as the recently capped winger scored one of the tries of the season in the second half to secure a timely win ahead of their opening Champions Cup game against Wasps.
The 21-year-old will be in contention for an Ireland call-up once again after a successful summer tour where he scored against USA.
Stockdale was just thrilled to see his side over the line in the first PRO14 interprovincial derby of the season after their shock loss away to Zebre the previous week.
He said: “Inter-pros are always tough and it was a phenomenal second-half from the boys, our defence was class with everyone flying off the line and smashing them.
“We had to tidy up a few things in the secondhalf and to get the upper hand we had to up the intensity and work hard.”
Connacht, now with five losses in the six games since Kieran Keane took charge, will be disappointed not to at least have picked up a point.
Tom McCartney put Ulster on the back foot with his first-half try as Connacht led 5-3 at the interval but the hosts fought back after the break. Former Connacht scrum-half John Cooney produced another superb display for Ulster.
But there will be a major step up in class when then welcome Wasps to Belfast next weekend. Ulster struggled in Europe last year and finished bottom of Pool 5.
They also struggled in the league and didn’t reach the play-off places despite their brilliant start to the year when they went five wins from five before Connacht defeated them for the first time since 2011-12.
But there was no upset on this occasion and Connacht coach Kieran Keane was bitterly disappointed not to get anything from the match.
“We came here to win,” he said. “We didn’t chance our arm an awful lot in that first half but we were ahead and pretty satisfied with how we were doing most things.
“We just couldn't get over the line near the end and that was a shame.”