Ulster receive ‘wake-up’ call ahead of opening league game against Dragons
Fixture a good reminder of standard required, admits Anscombe
Dan Tuohy of Ulster catches Leicester’s Toby Flood with a straight arm, resulting in Flood being carried off injured and Tuohy sinbinned. Photograph: Inpho/Presseye/Andrew Fosker
It was hardly the ideal way to sign off your pre-season programme of friendlies, but at least being worked over at Welford Road gave Ulster a real sense of just where they need to be to meet the forthcoming challenge.
“It was a good reminder of what you have to do to be able to perform against good teams,” admitted Ulster coach Mark Anscombe after an encounter that will only linger in the memory for the sight of Leicester’s Toby Flood being stretchered off and taken to hospital for standard medical checks after shipping a frightening hit from Dan Tuohy.
“I think that if we do get things right we can cause some trouble, but this was a good early season wake-up for us, a reality check if you like,” he added with minds already focusing hard on Friday’s Pro 12 opener at the Dragons.
The Tigers had a strong side out in what was their last outing before they begin the defence of their Aviva Premiership title at the weekend – with Lions’ tourists Tom Croft, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole all in the starting side – but Anscombe didn’t exactly keep his powder dry either as Andrew Trimble, Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, skipper Johann Muller and call-up Lion Tom Court were all deployed for the first time while Paddy Jackson got game-time off the bench.
Though rustiness was an inevitable outcome for Anscombe’s selection he was still able to take some positives and will remain confident that such a clear-cut outcome will be unlikely when the sides meet again in their opening Heineken Cup pool game in October at what is sure to be a tasty atmosphere at Ravenhill.
Ulster conceded four tries and their cause was hardly assisted early on when Tuohy was sinbinned after six minutes for his high hit on Flood which necessitated the outhalf’s removal to hospital after being knocked unconscious.
Despite that, Ulster managed to score first through a James McKinney penalty but the remainder of the half belonged to the hosts. Ryan Lamb’s equalising penalty was followed by tries from Niall Morris and David Mele with Lamb converting the former and bagging one more penalty shot to make it 18-3 to the Tigers at half-time.
Pressure from Tigers
In the second half the Tigers score early through Anthony Allen, converted by Lamb, and though Chris Henry got over for Ulster late on with the conversion from Paddy Jackson, the hosts finished up with Sebastian de Chaves touching down.
LEICESTER TIGERS: N Morris, S Hamilton, V Goneva, A Allen, A Thompstone, T Flood (capt), D Mele; L Mulipola, T Youngs, D Cole, L Deacon, G Parling, T Croft, J Salvi, J Crane Replacements: R Lamb for T Flood (1min); N Briggs on for T Youngs (41); D Bowden for Morris half-time; H Purdy for S Hamilton,
T Waldrom for L Deacon, S de Chaves for J Crane all (50), O Williams for D Bowden (52); J Schuster for D Cole (60), S Steele for D Mele (66).
Yellow card: J Schuster (71)
ULSTER: J Payne, A Trimble, L Marshall, C Farrell, D McIlwaine, J McKinney, P Marshall; T Court, R Herring, R Lutton, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, R Wilson . Replacements: I Porter for P Marshall, P Jackson for J McKinney, N Annett for R Herring, L Stevenson for J Muller and S Doyle for R Diack on all (60mins), A O’Connor for D Tuohy (77)
Yellow card: D Tuohy (6-16).