Match Review, starting teams and video of highlights of Connacht beating Ulster in URC quarter-final
Connacht pulled off a sensational victory over Ulster, qualifying for the semi-finals of the BKT United Rugby Championship. The coaching team, led by Andy Friend, guided the squad to their third victory at the ground in just five years, thanks to their enormous physicality, rock-solid defense, and relentless work at the breakdown.
First Half Domination
Connacht led 9-3 at the break, with Jack Carty converting three penalties. Despite Ulster opening the scoring with a penalty of their own just before the 20th minute mark, Connacht succeeded in keeping the hosts away from any genuine try-scoring opportunities of their own. Shamus Hurley-Langton dominated the first half and the game, winning the Player of the Match award with 18 carries, 16 tackles without a miss, 4 defenders beaten, and 2 turnovers won.
Second Half Struggle
The second half started with Connacht dominating possession and territory, but they were unable to convert opportunities into points. A fourth penalty from Carty stretched the lead to 9, but then began a period of Ulster dominance, with the hosts scoring their first try on 65 minutes. The gap was down to 2 points heading into 75 minutes, but an excellent break from Kieran Marmion brought Connacht deep into the Ulster half, and Carty’s fifth penalty meant Ulster had to go chasing a try in the closing stages.
The hosts managed to get 5 meters short as the clock went into the red, but replacement Dylan Tierney-Martin popped up with the decisive turnover at the breakdown to seal the win. The squad secured a five-point win, but they could have won by a more significant margin had they been more clinical with their entries into the Ulster 22. The victory has set plans in motion for Connacht to face either the DHL Stormers or Vodacom Bulls for a place in the Grand Final in South Africa, where they’ll have an opportunity to relive that famous day in 2016.
Ulster: Mike Lowry; Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Rory Sutherland, Rob Herring, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen; Alan O’Connor (capt), Kieran Treadwell; Dave McCann, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: Tom Stewart, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy, Nathan Doak, Stewart Moore, Craig Gilroy.
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (capt), Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham; Josh Murphy, Niall Murray; Shamus Hurley-Langton, Conor Oliver, Cian Prendergast.
Replacements: Dylan Tierney-Martin, Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Oisín Dowling, Jarrad Butler, Kieran Marmion, Tom Daly, Byron Ralston.
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)