Ulster Ravens 24 Jersey
British & Irish Cup, Pool
by William Church
On a wet and blustery night in Belfast, Ulster managed to hold
on to secure the victory, but with a losing bonus point, Jersey go
top of Pool 6 in the B&I cup (for 20 hours at least).
The cold and miserable weather was always likely to play a part
in the game, and so it was that following the kick off by Ulster
that play and possession swung both ways without either side making
any meaningful headway as both teams used the high ball and neither
side made progress with the ball in hand.
Jersey finally broke the deadlock after 12 minutes with a
powerful scrummage from 10 yards out pushing the homeside back,
before recycling the ball for Rae to cross the whitewash out wide.
O’Connor was unable to add the extras, but it looked as though the
Islanders were starting to take a grip of proceedings.
Jersey continued on the offensive, but possession was again won
and lost all too easily with handling errors in the wet, difficult
conditions, and it was Ulster who were then gifted a penalty in
front of the posts on the 22 and McKinney made no mistake: 3-5.
Perhaps the most telling part of the first half that ultimately
cost Jersey dearly was when fullback Mcilwaine managed to weave his
way to score, evading 4 tackles on the way, from a move that
started on his own 10m line. The conversion went wide, but Ulster
had taken the lead that they were never to relinquish. McKinney
extended the advantage shortly afterwards with his second penalty
to take the Ravens into half time leading by 11-5.
Jersey needed an early break through in the second period to get
back in to the game, but this was not to be and Ulster having first
extended the lead to 14-5 with another penalty then went further
ahead as prop, Chris Taylor went over for the Ravens 2nd try on 58
minutes that was superbly converted through the swirling wind from
out wide by McKinney to make it 21-5.
Jersey then made a number of changes in the front 5 and also
brought on Griffiths at 9 who marshalled his forwards with greater
purpose and made a couple of telling breaks. As much as Ulster had
out-played Jersey during the 3rd quarter, the Islanders fought back
in the latter stages of the game winning 2 penalty tries in quick
succession as again the pack dominated. Both tries were easily
converted by O’Connor and at 21-19 with the clock ticking down it
looked as though Jersey could have sneaked the win.
Ulster did first extend the lead with another penalty when
Felton was penalised for crossing having collected the ball from
the restart, and as the game entered stoppage time, Jersey were
quick to kick off again and were soon camped back in the Ulster 22.
Following more good work by the pack, the ball was passed out wide
and went to Burroughs who was caught and totally wrapped up in the
tackle. He managed to get to ground but was penalised for holding
on and the initiative was gone. Ulster cleared to the other end and
then ran the clock down to record their first B&I cup win by
Jersey did gain a losing bonus point and step over Cornish
Pirates ahead of their encounter away to Ayr on Saturday
Following the game Harvey said that he was disappointed with the
result as he thought that the boys had done enough to earn a
victory. Clearly frustrated with some of the lapses that allowed
Ulster to build a strong lead, he acknowledged that Ravenhill is a
difficult place to travel to, especially in light of the very early
start. There were of course positives to take from the game, not
least the spirit and the way in which Jersey battled back so well,
and now the focus returns to the Championship and the impending
visit of Plymouth Albion to St Peter next Saturday.
Ulster Ravens: Mcilwaine,
Cochrane, Andrew, Farrell, Nelson, McKinney, Porter, Cromie, Annett
(c), Taylor, O’Connor, McCombe, Joyce, Doyle, McComish.
McGrath, Rae, Taggart, Heaney, McCloskey, Busby.
Jersey: Burroughs, McCrea,
Locke, Cooper, Dawson, O’Connor, Dudley, Fidler, Stratford, Young,
Markham, Rae (c), Voss, Buckle, Maidment.
Selway, McCarthy, Campbell, Bishop, Copsey, Griffiths.
Star Man: Mike McComish
Penalties: McKinney (4)
Tries: Rae, Penalty try