August 27 2011
Conor O’Shea did not appear unduly disturbed by what was clearly a below par performance for the last pre-season friendly. He cited the fact that the team had left Gatwick that morning at about 5.30 a.m.; the refereeing of the breakdown; the first try that came from a knock-on and made a reasonable case. To the less involved observer they did not explain or excuse a performance well off the pace and invention which were the hallmark of Harlequins’ last visit to the emerald isle.
From the start Ulster demonstrated an intention to run at pace and move the ball rapidly and wide. They committed more players to the breakdown that Quins and were rarely turned over. Equally, the idiosyncratic refereeing allowed the Ulstermen, at the breakdown, to come in off their feet or from the side and ignore the offside line. Harlequins were reduced mainly to defending the determined Ulster attacks.
As the first quarter ended the ball ran loose from a defender’s knock-on in the Ulster twenty-two and was hacked well upfield by winger Craig Gilroy. In the chase that followed Chisholm appeared to have the better of the chase, but the ball eluded him and despite appearing to have been knocked on as he tried to score, Gilroy was awarded the try. Ian Humphries added the conversion and a few minutes later a simple penalty to give Ulster a 10 – 0 lead after half an hour.
Then a powerful break by Ugo Monye took play into Ulster’s half. From the breakdown Dickson found Turner-Hall at pace and his pass to Chisholm allowed the winger to break past a couple of defenders and put Dickson in for a fine try. Unfortunately, Evans’ conversion attempt hit the right-hand post and bounced back. This was much more the sort of play that one might expect of Harlequins but it was the end of their scoring in this match. Despite much Ulster running, the half ended without further score and Ulster leading 10 – 5.
Harlequins started to use replacements at the interval with York and Brooker replacing Guest and Gray from the start of the half. It took Ulster just a couple of minutes to put the result beyond doubt as yet another kick and chase was won by the Ulster scrum-half, Marshall, and with the conversion the lead became 17 – 5. The kick and chase was a frequent Ulster tactic and as more and more replacements appeared for both sides it was not long before the match was being played by two totally different teams.
It was clear, too, that as the half progressed that Quins were being outplayed and almost inevitably with a minute or so remaining Ulster created an overlap on the left for a final try by Falloon. The conversion attempt failed.
All in all it was not a satisfactory performance, whatever Conor O’Shea says to the press!
HARLEQUINS: Brown, Chisholm (Smith 66), Lowe, Turner-Hall (Urdapilleta 70), Monye (Walker 70), Evans (Clegg 56), Dickson (Bolt 65), Marler (Lambert 65), Gray (Brooker 40), Johnston (Fairbrother 55), Kohn (Matthews 65), Robson (Browne 53), Robshaw (Wallace 66), Skinner, Guest (York 40).