Leinster Rugby | Defeat for Leinster Juniors in campaign opener

Ulster Rugby Juniors 21 Leinster Rugby Juniors 10

The Leinster Juniors returned to action following a three-year Covid-enforced break, facing Ulster at the Carrickfergus RFC.

The overwhelming majority of this team were earning their first Leinster cap. The squad was led by Leinster Junior veteran, Kilkenny’s Wes Carter.

Ulster got off to a very strong start playing against a near gale-force wind. They took an early lead inside for five minutes with a try by their left wing, Scott Martin. This came after the first of a number of scrum penalties that were won by Ulster in the first half.

They kicked to touch inside the Leinster 22 and from the resulting lineout they moved the ball through a number of phases before setting their winger in for the opening score. A good conversion kick in the difficult conditions ensured they took the maximum from the score.

Leinster reset and were eventually able to enjoy a period of pressure inside the Ulster half which resulted in a penalty. The kick from the left of the posts was landed by the out half, Athy’s Craig Miller.

Unfortunately, Ulster struck back within two minutes with a second try, this one scored under the posts to extend their advantage with just 12 minutes of the game played.

Despite the difficult start, Leinster heads did not drop. Leinster seeded to get back into the match with a well-worked try through No 8 Tom Tracey with Miller’s conversion closing the gap further.

However, Ulster were to dominate much of the remainder of the first half, both territorially and with possession. The Ulster set-piece was powerful, both scrum and lineout. They came within inches of scoring further tries in the remainder of the first half on at least two occasions but brave Leinster defending kept them at bay.

To their immense credit, Leinster upped their performance in the second half. They dominated the third quarter and were camped inside the Ulster half for the entire period but agonizingly failed to make that show on the scoreboard.

Problems in the scrum were solved and the backline were beginning to show their class and speed with numerous flowing moves that stretched Ulster’s defense out wide but the inability to convert to points would haunt them later on.

Ulster finally lifted the Leinster pressure and scored their third try of the afternoon after 70 minutes, out wide on the left wing.

It was a harsh concession to Leinster who had appeared so in control in the second half. Unfortunately, the lads were unable to break the Ulster defensive line and the score would remain 21-10 until the finish.

Their next match is away to Connacht on Saturday, April 30, at the Buccaneers RFC.

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