UL­STER’S LIT­TLE REA OF SUN­SHINE

Try from de­but boy gives home side win over Blues at Kingspan

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Sport - BY DY­LAN SMALL

DE­BUT boy Mar­cus Rea helped Ul­ster beat Le­in­ster 14-13 in their Guin­ness PRO14 derby clash at Kingspan Sta­dium.

With big­ger matches in com­ing weeks and both sides un­able to bet­ter their po­si­tion in the ta­ble, the coaches took the op­por­tu­nity to give some fringe play­ers a game – but the con­test never hit the heights.

After a scrappy open­ing

Le­in­ster had the first chance to put points on the board after the pack won a penalty from a scrum but Ross Byrne’s long

range ef­fort dropped short.

Chances were at a pre­mium in the first quar­ter and when both sides did cre­ate any, the good work was un­done by a han­dling er­ror.

Ul­ster’s first op­por­tu­nity to score came on 24 min­utes. Johnny McPhillips turned the Le­in­ster de­fence with a well weighted kick, full­back Michael Lowry caught the ball in the vis­i­tors’ 22, and the for­wards worked it through a cou­ple of phases to edge closer to the line – but Joe To­mane won a turnover at the ruck, al­low­ing Byrne to clear to touch.

Le­in­ster fi­nally broke the dead­lock on 29 min­utes. Fer­gus McFad­den, who had ear­lier es­caped a sanc­tion for an al­ter­ca­tion with Sean Reidy, got the ball on his wing and made a jink­ing run across the pitch into the Ul­ster 22. He fed Byrne and the out­side-half fired the ball to the wing for full-back Jimmy O’Brien to go over in the cor­ner for an un­con­verted try. Ul­ster re­sponded al­most im­me­di­ately. Lowry started the move with a prob­ing counter-at­tack and off­loaded to scrum-half Dave Shana­han,who was pro­pelled over the line with the help of a cou­ple of for­wards after ini­tially see­ing his progress halted. McPhillips added the con­ver­sion. Le­in­ster re­gained the lead as Byrne slot­ted over a penalty fol­low­ing an Ul­ster in­fringe­ment at the line-out. The vis­i­tors went into the break with a 13-7 lead fol­low­ing a try from the fi­nal play of the first half, when McFad­den slid in for an un­con­verted score fol­low­ing good work by Byrne and Noel Reid.

Le­in­ster had lock Oisin Dowl­ing yel­low carded on 52 min­utes for an in­fringe­ment on his own line and Ul­ster made their nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage count eight min­utes later when flanker Rea marked his de­but with a try, burst­ing over from close range de­spite the at­ten­tion of two de­fend­ers.

Full-back Pe­ter Nel­son landed the con­ver­sion, which proved to be the de­ci­sive score.

THE MARC OF THE MAN Ul­ster’s Mar­cus Rea goes over for a try on his de­but against Le­in­ster last night

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