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Ulster U18’s produced a strong performance in their 34-24 close-call win over Connacht in the PwCIRFU U18 Men’s Clubs Interprovincial Championship opener at Energia Park.
After two tries from Ethan Graham and Ben Gibson gave Ulster the confidence to see out a bonus point victory over Connacht.
While Ulster did come out on top, Connacht did play well in spurts, and when they did have a purple patch, they caused problems.
However, they did trail 21-10 at the break, being outclassed by Ulster in many aspects but kept in the game with centre Hugh Gavin being a standout.
Although Connacht did make a good account of themselves for most of the match. Ulster kept their opponents at bay, stunting their progression with the ball and ultimately, confirmed their winning start to the tournament.
FT: Ulster U18 34-24 Connacht U18.
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) August 22, 2021
It was an end-to-end affair for much of the opening quarter, with both Connacht and more so Ulster notching up scores from the early minutes with real substance.
Ben Gibson was the real standout of the match, scoring an impressive 19 points, with a notable score showcasing his pace and skill, when he gained possession from a Connacht ruck to run through their defence with another converted try for a 14-0 lead.
Credit where Credit is due, Connacht did not throw in the towel early on, out-half Ryan Roache gave his side some hope after a penalty reduced the deficit.
The Westerners scored their first try minutes later, with Rory Glynn making it 14-5 at the water break.
Straight after the water break, Ulster extended the lead when Ethan Graham scored an individual try to hamper Connacht’s good work.
Prior to the end of the first half, Connacht captain Max Flynn reduced the gap to 21-10 after charging with the ball with power.
Unlike the first half, the second was a rather close affair. At one point Conor Galvin’s side closed the point gap to within four.
But Ulster powered on, making it 26-17 from a back-line play, just before Ben Gibson made it a 12-point game.
Connacht did get a bonus point in the latter minutes of the second half to give them hope but was unable to turn over the ball from Ulster who came out 34-24 winners at Energia Park.
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