Ulster 21 Connacht 13
Guinness Pro14 semi-final playoff
Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill, Belfast
Saturday 4th May 2019.
Rory Best and Darren Cave received the best possible send-off on the occasion of their last game for Ulster at Ravenhill. Marcell Coetzee’s try on 77 minutes secured the win for the Ulstermen as they finally put some breathing space between themselves and the westerners.
Ulster’s back row were the key to their winning of this game. Their work rate and physicality all over the pitch were the main reason Ulster came out on top. Indeed their two tries also came from their back row. Nick Timoney got on the end of a nice piece of play from Marcell Coetzee to cut inside the last line of Connacht defense and cross over in the corner for the games first try after fifteen minutes. A John Cooney penalty had already given them a three point lead by that stage and the try stretched that lead to eight. Jack Carty got Connacht back in the game with a penalty half way through the half and it was the visitors that had the better of the second quarter. However, despite their pressure a John Cooney penalty left the score 11-3 at the break.
Connacht for their part contributed to the contest, but will be disappointed that Bundee Aki’s sole try after Colby Fiangaa’s intercept was all they had to show for their efforts. Ulster were more clinical when chances were presented and made more of their visits to the Connacht 22. However, it was a case of both defences being on top for large parts of the game. In the opening half Connacht threatened the Ulster try line on more than one occasion, but were repelled after numerous phases before inevitably Ulster gained a turnover or the ball was knocked on. It will be a source of great frustration for Andy Friend and his coaching staff that Connacht failed to find a way through when on top.
Jack Carty’s conversion after Aki’s try brought the margin back to a single point with twenty minutes to play. Cooney and Carty then exchanged penalties and the westerners went in search of the next score and the lead in the contest.
However, the Ulstermen stood firm and Coetzee’s try and Billy Burns subsequent conversion made it a two-score game and set up a semi-final trip to face Glasgow Warriors in Friday May 17th