S-U-F-T-U-M

Ravenhill

An explanation first of all of the title. Rugby fans will I hope recognise it immediately. It means Stand Up For The Ulster Men. The chant could be heard around a rain-soaked Ravenhill tonight as Ulster took on Glasgow Warriors in the Heineken Cup. Despite some protests over the union flag on some of the main roads in Belfast, it was almost a packed house (10,940) and there seemed to be only a handful of visitors from Scotland. The wet conditions were not conducive to good rugby. Ulster dominated the first half. Ruan Pienaar put over a penalty after seven minutes and the out half added the conversion after Nick Williams went over for a try in the nineteenth minute. A 10-0 lead for Ulster at the break. Glasgow came back in the first fifteen  minutes of the second half with two penalties from out half Duncan Weir. Pienaar added another penalty on 62 minutes to give the home side a seven points cushion 13-6. The last quarter saw a determined Ulster side score two tries in the 73rd (Jared Payne) and 78th (Darren Cave) minutes. Neither was converted but coach Mark Anscombe will be satisfied with the result: victory to Ulster by 23-6. With one round of pool matches remaining, Ulster now sit top of Pool 4 on 19 points, five clear of Northampton Saints and six ahead of next weekend’s French opponents Castres. Although qualification for the Cup quarter-final is now secure, a good away result next week would give Ulster the advantage of a home draw in the knockout stages. Man of the match: Tom Court.

ULSTER 23 GLASGOW WARRIORS 6  (HT 10-0)

For the teams, see Ulster Rugby.

VIEW FROM THE PROM

Four points in the bag for Ulster

ULSTER returned to their winning ways at Ravenhill, defeating Connacht 22-3 in the RaboDirect PRO12 league. But the scoreline did not reflect how close Connacht came to upsetting the home team. Both sides exchanged penalties early on. Having brought a New Zealander along to watch the match I was particualrly interested in how new signing and World Cup medallist from Auckland John Afoa would perform. He got a great cheer when he came out onto the pitch and was soon demonstrating his strengths in the front row of the scrum. Indeed it was from the scrum just before half time that a move began which resulted in winger Craig Gilroy latching onto an inside pass from Ian Humphreys and then going over in the left corner to make it 8-3 to Ulster at the break. The home side began the second half intent on pressurising Connacht and two minutes in, good work by Rory Best, Dan Tuohy and Afoa created an opportunity for Ireland prop Tom Court to score their second try, with Humphreys adding the conversion. For the rest of the half, though, the battle was extremely tough as Connacht did their best to pull back the twelve point gap. Tempers flared at times but the referee kept the game under control well and no-one was sin-binned or shown a red card. However the medics were kept busy with a series of injuries to key Ulster players Stephen Ferris (ankle), Tom Court (knee), and skipper Johann Muller. Perhaps coach Brian McLaughlin had the risk of an injury in mind when he substituted Afoa before the end and the Kiwi was applauded for his first performance in an Ulster jersey. Additional time was being played when Ian Humphreys broke through the Connacht defence to score under the posts and add a quick conversion as the final whistle blew. Ulster 22 Connacht 3. The result means that with eight games played, Ulster are in mid-table, nine points behind the Ospreys and Leinster, who saw off the challenge of Munster at the RDS.

Click here for all Ulster Rugby news.