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Ulster Showed Ireland How It should Be Done
CulzieDate: Monday, 2011-03-07, 5:06 PM | Message # 1
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A good win for Ulster but I liked this for the headline alone. biggrin

Ulster showed Ireland how it should be done
Thursday, 3 February 2011

As a rugby spectator, it is easy to tend towards the critical. You look for the areas of potential improvement rather than concentrate on what went well.

Knowing that there is no such thing as the perfect performance it is all too easy to dwell on the negative.

Every now and again, however, you get a performance that warms the cockles of your heart. It renews your faith in how rugby should be played and the sort of outcome that is possible when things click.

Such a performance occurred last weekend.

The Stadio Flaminio didn’t witness it, neither did Twickenham and Murrayfield had the opposite effect by leaving Irish supporters cold.

It was, in fact, Ravenhill that saw Ulster put on an absolute treat for supporters on Friday night. Enormous credit is due to the players who put in an 80 minute performance that ranks up there with anything that has been achieved so far this season.

It is so pleasing to say that Ulster produced the rugby performance of the weekend.

Andy Ward, in the match commentary, absolutely nailed it when he stated that the effort had been built on huge defence.

There was an energy and intensity about the swarming Ulster defence for the whole game. If there was one word that ran through virtually every tackle that Ulster made, it was attitude.

We saw it, most of all, in the period immediately after Paddy McAllister’s exceptionally harsh yellow card. Every time the Blues carried the ball into contact, they were driven further and further back with every phase. Cardiff were left with not much more than endeavour as the main aspect to take from the game.

This is not meant in any way to belittle this Cardiff Blues team, as they too showed signs of quality.

Ironically, the first time in the match that Ulster’s defensive line was sloppy and unfocused, Cardiff registered their only try of the game.

The door opened and Cardiff walked through it, but had to produce some lovely handling touches to grab the try through Dan Fish.

When you defend like that, invariably it has a positive effect on your attacking play and the two most striking features were tempo and accuracy.

The forwards carried with conviction, recycled the ball efficiently, while the backs looked like a proper backline rather than a collection of individuals. Add in a sprinkle of magic from Ian Humphreys and it was a potent mixture.

The young boys all made an impact. Nevin Spence looks more and more settled in the No. 13 shirt and has made remarkable progress in such a short time. He was the senior man in the centre partnership and steered Luke Marshall through the latter’s own impressive game.

Craig Gilroy kept up his try-scoring habit — the ultimate measurement for a winger.

Another player who has improved over the season is Adam D’Arcy. As the weather improves and the pitches get harder we will see his best rugby.

His attacking instinct is matched by his workrate and commitment to make the extra man or run a dummy line in attack. He played a fairly unseen, but key role in several of the tries.

The ‘old man’ of the gang, Andrew Trimble, gave a performance which had it been produced a week earlier against the Scarlets would surely have secured a recall to the Ireland squad.

His strength of character ensured that Ireland’s loss was Ulster’s gain.

The bonus point came before the 65 minute mark and it would have been easy just to shut down. Instead, the hunger, pace and concentration never wavered and Brian McLaughlin must have been purring at the way his young charges applied themselves.

The problem is, of course, that we will now expect this sort of intensity and accuracy every week. The challenges will get greater as Ulster approach the business end of the season. At least now the players can see what is possible when the right options are taken, discipline is good, defence is aggressive and organised and the skills are executed with precision.

It augurs well for a top four finish in the Magners League and a cracking game against Northampton in the Heineken Cup. How different it feels when you are competing towards the end of the season.

Ulster Protestants consider themselves to be a separate nation. This nation they call Ulster
Gervais986Date: Wednesday, 2024-06-12, 6:55 AM | Message # 2
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