Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

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Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by LordDowlais on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:55 am

First topic message reminder :

Pro12: Ulster v Newport Gwent Dragons
Date: Friday, 2 September Venue: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC TWO Northern Ireland and the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app; highlights later online and Scrum V on Sunday

Ruan Pienaar will start Ulster's Pro12 opener against the Dragons on Friday with Charles Piutau and Brett Herron handed debuts for the Irish province.

Pienaar's selection comes a day after the announcement that he would be leaving Ulster after this season.

Props Sam Hobbs and Craig Mitchell join backs Nick Macleod and Pat Howard in competitive Dragons debuts.

Ex-Wales hooker Rhys Thomas captains the visitors while Wales centre Tyler Morgan is on the bench.

England Under-18 international Herron will partner Pienaar at half-back with All Blacks star Piutau at full-back.

Prop Ross Kane will join Herron and Piutau in making his competitive debut after also playing in pre-season games.

With summer signing Rodney Ah You joining injured props Wiehahn Herbst, Ricky Lutton and Jonny Simpson as an absentee after being concussed in last weekend's warm-up win over Northampton, academy player Kane is handed his opportunity.

Andrew Trimble, along with other Ireland players Rory Best and Iain Henderson, is unavailable following his summer tour exertions with the national squad so hooker Rob Herring will captain the side.

Trimble and Herring are sharing the Ulster captaincy this season after national skipper Best stepped down from the role.

With Chris Henry also not available because of injury, Sean Reidy, Clive Ross and Roger Wilson are named in the back row.

Ulster's backline includes Ireland internationals Stuart McCloskey, Stuart Olding and Craig Gilroy with Louis Ludik not being risked because of a thumb injury and Darren Cave missing for personal reasons.

Piutau and Gilroy are joined in the back three by Ireland Under-20 player Jacob Stockdale.

Dragons' regional captain Lewis Evans is back-row cover on the bench.

TEAMS

Ulster: C Piutau; C Gilroy, S Olding, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Herron, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring (captain), R Kane; P Browne, F van der Merwe; C Ross, S Reidy, R Wilson. Replacements: J Andrew, K McCall, A Warwick, A O'Connor, R Diack, P Marshall, S Windsor, R Lyttle.

Newport Gwent Dragons: C Meyer; A Warren, S Beard, J Dixon, P Howard; N Macleod, S Pretorius; S Hobbs, T Rhys Thomas (capt), C Mitchell: C Hill, R Landman; O Griffiths, N Cudd, E Jackson. Replacements: R Buckley, T Davies, L Fairbrother, N Crosswell, L Evans, C Davies, A O'Brien, T Morgan.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)

Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini (Italy), Helen O'Reilly (IRFU)

Citing commissioner: Wayne Sheridan (IRFU)

TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by clivemcl on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:05 pm

Dang it.... now I'm curious chin

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by dragon4life on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:06 pm

Thanks RDW, back to the game I think for Ulster Piatau could be the best signing made out of any of the European teams and could carry you to the pro 12 title and knock out stages in Europe he's a real game changer, add Coetzee to the mix it's been a good bit of transfer business. As for Dragosn Macleod could be a improvement at 10 but not convinced by new props

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by mikey_dragon on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:29 pm

I have to say that it's likely I'll turn out to be wrong about McLeod. So far he looks like a shrewd signing - same goes for Howard and Beard in the backs. The forward aren't well drilled at all and are still underpowered, so there's a lot to improve upon there but atm I can't see it happening.

Later on in the season when Ulster are better and have more players back it's hard to see who could beat them.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Notch on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:31 pm

Alright, alright, calm down, calm down... The thread will end up being locked if everybody doesn't just chill

Not a great Ulster performance if we're honest, but after a poor opening to the game we did enough to get the 5 points. I think there's a lot of promise based on that display. Our depth in the backs is superb- we can name an entirely international back line with players who didn't start tonights game. Two quality players for every position it seems with the way Herron and Paul Marshall are playing. I really think Herron is a tidy, solid player with no real weaknesses- perfect back-up for Paddy. Ross Kane and Rob Lyttle show that there is quality coming through the Academy, and Stockdale was very good as well. Lyttle really has been a find.

The big issue is the lack or really good ball carriers in the pack. We got lateral a lot in possession for this reason. Hard to see us doing much in Europe with this pack. However, having a rake of tight heads out injured means our scrum wasn't the weapon it can be and our maul and lineout are both very good in attack and defence. Just feel we're lacking a bit of physicality and power. Henderson will be essential for us.

Overall I'd give Ulster 6/10. Happy with the result, hoping to see us go up a few gears as the season goes on.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:34 pm

Commiserations, Dragons. Thought it would have been closer than that, but it's the first game of the season, it was away and it was against a pretty strong Ulster backline.

Ulster didn't start too brightly, but thankfully we worked our way into in the second half.

Really pleased for Kane. Thought he had a great game for his debut, and will go some way to easing the pressure at TH.

Herron's passing wasn't the sharpest, or his defence, but I wouldn't be too hard on him as it's his first game at this level, he's young and he has a lot of time to improve. He was probably a bit nervous and trying to force things a little. Thought his kicking from hand was very good though.

Lyttle is a wee gem. Took his try's well, and his second try was excellent. Stockdale only gets better. A real find.

I understand the feelings about bias. It's just Gusher. He's a very passionate Ulster supporter, and I suppuse he comes across as a bit one-eyed. It is BBCNI though, and will always be Ulster centric. Just the way it is angel

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by clivemcl on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:35 pm

I thought Clive Ross did quite well carrying tonight. Not sure he would be just as successful against tougher teams though, but made yards tonight.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Notch on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:36 pm

Yeah, I don't feel embarrassed about them but you have to take it with a pinch of salt. They're targeting their coverage towards a domestic audience, which is no different to what BBC Wales and BBC Alba do as well.

I would actually prefer all of them to be less biased but as long as we're dealing with local broadcasters its the way it'll be.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:38 pm

RiscaGame wrote:I'm not sure anybody can judge our pack yet, when in effect it's a new front row.

Fair point, Risca, although I was basing that on comments I read about the pre-season games. I don't even know if it was the same front row though Erm

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:40 pm

Notch wrote:Yeah, I don't feel embarrassed about them but you have to take it with a pinch of salt. They're targeting their coverage towards a domestic audience, which is no different to what BBC Wales and BBC Alba do as well.

I would actually prefer all of them to be less biased but as long as we're dealing with local broadcasters its the way it'll be.

Well you certainly have to take Gusher with a pinch of salt Very Happy

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Don Alfonso on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:41 pm

While Piutau is obviously the box office, I was delighted to see "wee" Stockdale pulling the Dragons apart on several occasions. He looks like his performances in the U20 RWC did his confidence no end of good. His try was superb. Olding, as well, looked brilliant and shouldered quite a bit of responsibility when Herron was flailing.

Great debut for Kane - 21 year old academy prop - he won't stay fourth choice if he continues on the trajectory he's started on. I need to sit down to say it, but (No Disrespect To) Clive Ross genuinely looks like he's kicked on. Scrappy, and we need to settle and play smarter, but there have been worse starts to seasons!

Commiserations to the Dragons. Looked like you had our back row in your pocket for most of the first half but, unexpectedly, they stepped up in the second half.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Griff on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:42 pm

Exactly Munchkin. I enjoyed the BBC NI coverage. Not sure why some Dragons fans are getting their knickers in a twist. Perhaps they're conditioned to BBC Wales bias and no longer notice it at home Wink If you will scour the depths of Sky TV to find regional TV then you're going to get localised (and therefore partisan) coverage. It's what they're paid to do. It's not broadcast nationally (or not broadcast mainstream nationally, more accurately) so the remit is different. If I tuned into BBC Yorkshire I'd expect them to be 'reet oop' the backsides of their own side. And long may it continue.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Don Alfonso on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:43 pm

Also, when Ruan scored his try and started beating the Ulster crest on his breast, I unaccountably found I had something in my eye.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Notch on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:44 pm

Don Alfonso wrote:Also, when Ruan scored his try and started beating the Ulster crest on his breast, I unaccountably found I had something in my eye.

Nucifora must go

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:44 pm

clivemcl wrote:I thought Clive Ross did quite well carrying tonight. Not sure he would be just as successful against tougher teams though, but made yards tonight.

He's never convinced me, Clive. A solid enough squad player, but no more than that. Think he started at the same time as Reidy, and Reidy's improvement is obvious while Ross is static.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Don Alfonso on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:52 pm

Think that's a bit unfair - that's the best game Clive has had for us, and he was pretty useful in the second half.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by clivemcl on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 10:54 pm

Don Alfonso wrote:Also, when Ruan scored his try and started beating the Ulster crest on his breast, I unaccountably found I had something in my eye.

It got me a bit fired up. Part of me wants to go the way of football and not be manhandled and contorted by an international body at the expense of club success. A man, a human being, who worked his ass off to get to the top of his career, has found the place he loves, his family loves, and his employer wants him too. But somebody else has told him he isn't allowed what his heart desires. Sad

I genuienely feel I've lost some of my passion for the national team as a result of this heartless and nonsensical move. mad

Also dissapointed with Ferris who seemed to be an apologist for the IRFU - clear to see he's keen to keep his non-playing career options open...

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 11:00 pm

Griff wrote:Exactly Munchkin. I enjoyed the BBC NI coverage. Not sure why some  Dragons fans are getting their knickers in a twist. Perhaps they're conditioned to BBC Wales bias and no longer notice it at home Wink If you will scour the depths of Sky TV to find regional TV then you're going to get localised (and therefore partisan) coverage. It's what they're paid to do. It's not broadcast nationally (or not broadcast mainstream nationally, more accurately) so the remit is different. If I tuned into BBC Yorkshire I'd expect them to be 'reet oop' the backsides of their own side. And long may it continue.  

heh, I remember my first viewing of coverage provided by Scottish and Welsh broadcasters and thinking this is quite biased mad before remembering my own broadcaster Erm

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 11:02 pm

Don Alfonso wrote:Think that's a bit unfair - that's the best game Clive has had for us, and he was pretty useful in the second half.

It probably is, Don. It's just that I don't hold much store in one off games. I hope to proved completely wrong.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 11:06 pm

Don Alfonso wrote:Also, when Ruan scored his try and started beating the Ulster crest on his breast, I unaccountably found I had something in my eye.

Yep, think that will be a lasting memory for many of us. The man bleeds Ulster. I won't type my thoughts on Nucifora, other than to say I feel he and the IRFU have betrayed Pienaar, and Ulster Rugby.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by marty2086 on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 11:09 pm

Think Dragons were hampered a bit by the injuries, can't have been easy

Herron seemed a bit too keen to pass the ball and force things at times, given its his first game at the level hopefully with a bit of time and experience he'll make better decisions.

Maybe we could sign an experienced backup at 10 for next season, I hear theres a former Springbok may be available Whistle

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by dragon4life on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 11:10 pm

The only thing for Dragons to be optimistic about is that we have a few players who are considered starters coming back such as Amos, Dee, Hewitt and I would like to see James Thomas at blindside

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 11:11 pm

marty2086 wrote:Think Dragons were hampered a bit by the injuries, can't have been easy

Herron seemed a bit too keen to pass the ball and force things at times,  given its his first game at the level hopefully with a bit of time and experience he'll make better decisions.

Maybe we could sign an experienced backup at 10 for next season, I hear theres a former Springbok may be available Whistle

Laugh That might just work.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Stone Motif on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 11:29 pm

dragon4life wrote:The only thing for Dragons to be optimistic about is that we have a few players who are considered starters coming back such as Amos, Dee, Hewitt and I would like to see James Thomas at blindside

Amos et al won't do sh1t behind a shamed pack.

Other than start to agree with Uncle Warren that they should be playing for another team.


Last edited by Stone Motif on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 11:31 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : felt like a dig at Cement Head)

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by dragon4life on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 12:38 am

Stone Motif wrote:
dragon4life wrote:The only thing for Dragons to be optimistic about is that we have a few players who are considered starters coming back such as Amos, Dee, Hewitt and I would like to see James Thomas at blindside

Amos et al won't do sh1t behind a shamed pack.

Other than start to agree with Uncle Warren that they should be playing for another team.

Stone, would you bring back Price, Dee and Harris straight away as soon as they are fit? What other of our players would you like to see playing?

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Luckless Pedestrian on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 8:49 am

The morning after the opening game of the season, and we've lost pretty heavily - 29 unanswered points isn't pretty, however you dress it up.

I assume the fixtures are drawn at random (apart from the derbies and all that), but it is a bit harsh that the three worst teams last season all started this season away from home - plus all the other regions start at home.

Sigh. It was always unlikely we'd win at Ravenhill, but to get trounced first up is just so dispiriting.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by The Great Aukster on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 10:53 am

Thanks for the thread LD.

Very disappointed to see that the same vulnerabilities are still surfacing again at Ulster for yet another season. It was just stupid to kick for the corners and turn down an easy 6 points when the team were only nine points ahead. I was actually bordering on disrespect to the Dragons and that was totally unwarranted.

Equally while Clive Ross did indeed have his best game he still looked no better than OK and he was asleep for the Howard try. Roger Wilson has started the season with some pep but has no longer the stamina that his particular game relies on. Reidy was the most anonymous he's been for a while but he has accrued some leeway from last season.

Herron's tackling was reminiscent of Ian Humphries in it's effectiveness but at least he tried, and his kicking from hand was good enough to suggest that Windsor will never play 10 for Ulster again.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Stone Motif on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 12:03 pm

dragon4life wrote:
Stone Motif wrote:
dragon4life wrote:The only thing for Dragons to be optimistic about is that we have a few players who are considered starters coming back such as Amos, Dee, Hewitt and I would like to see James Thomas at blindside

Amos et al won't do sh1t behind a shamed pack.

Other than start to agree with Uncle Warren that they should be playing for another team.

Stone, would you bring back Price, Dee and Harris straight away as soon as they are fit? What other of our players would you like to see playing?

Dee and Harris definitely - probably the only competent front rowers in the squad.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Stone Motif on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 12:05 pm

Luckless Pedestrian wrote:The morning after the opening game of the season, and we've lost pretty heavily - 29 unanswered points isn't pretty, however you dress it up.

I assume the fixtures are drawn at random (apart from the derbies and all that), but it is a bit harsh that the three worst teams last season all started this season away from home - plus all the other regions start at home.

Sigh. It was always unlikely we'd win at Ravenhill, but to get trounced first up is just so dispiriting.

But also completely expected.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Notch on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 1:53 pm

The Great Aukster wrote:It was just stupid to kick for the corners and turn down an easy 6 points when the team were only nine points ahead. I was actually bordering on disrespect to the Dragons and that was totally unwarranted.

I completely disagree. So many seasons I've seen Ulster let teams off the hook by scoring only three tries at home in games we dominated, and in multiple seasons I've seen us finish third or fourth and lose an away semi-final. We want to win this competition and we need to finish top two to have the best possible chance of doing that, and you can bet many of the other teams with the same aspirations as us will be taking five points at home to the Dragons this season.

Yes, it's a calculated risk but after going 8-0 ahead the Dragons hadn't created a single opportunity so it was a good risk to take and the kind of game management that will hopefully pay off at the end of the season. We need to not worry about disrespect and work out what the best way for us to get as many points in the league stage as possible is and do it. If that means chasing the bonus point when we are at home to the sides who have traditionally struggled to pick up away wins I think that is actually quite smart. Since Gregor Townsend came into Glasgow it is certainly what they have been doing, and Joe Schmidt's Leinster were also very adept at making these fixtures count in terms of bonus points. As those are probably the two best sides since the Pro12 began it's not a bad example to follow.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by marty2086 on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 3:56 pm

Agree with Notch, sometimes you have to be ruthless and even arrogant enough to believe your forwards will get the job done and the ball down

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by LeinsterFan4life on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 6:46 pm

clivemcl wrote:
Don Alfonso wrote:Also, when Ruan scored his try and started beating the Ulster crest on his breast, I unaccountably found I had something in my eye.

It got me a bit fired up. Part of me wants to go the way of football and not be manhandled and contorted by an international body at the expense of club success. A man, a human being, who worked his ass off to get to the top of his career, has found the place he loves, his family loves, and his employer wants him too. But somebody else has told him he isn't allowed what his heart desires.  Sad

I genuienely feel I've lost some of my passion for the national team as a result of this heartless and nonsensical move.  mad

Also dissapointed with Ferris who seemed to be an apologist for the IRFU - clear to see he's keen to keep his non-playing career options open...
You can be guaranteed Ulster will be allowed sign a NIQ 9 within the next couple of seasons, when the IRFU see how weak Ulster are in that position. The same thing happened with Leinster when they forced Hines to leave, we were allowed sign a NIQ replacement (Sykes) straight away. There really is no common sense up there when it comes to transfers in the IRFU.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 9:12 pm

Ulster fans - probably best we send Rory Scholes back now. Edinburgh are going to completely ruin him as a player based on tonight's showing!

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Notch on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 9:30 pm

Poor bugger left because he thought some first team rugby would give him a better chance of coming back and getting a spot on the wing for Ulster in two years. Instead he realises that Edinburgh are shoite the same weekend two Ulster Academy wingers score three tries between them. Not sure he'll have a shirt to come back to, but if he does return he'll add to the competition.

He could have started last night but Rob Lyttle got the opportunity because he left and he took it with two brilliant tries so I'm feeling a bit more sanguine over his decision to leave than I had been.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by The Great Aukster on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 10:01 am

Notch wrote:
The Great Aukster wrote:It was just stupid to kick for the corners and turn down an easy 6 points when the team were only nine points ahead. I was actually bordering on disrespect to the Dragons and that was totally unwarranted.

I completely disagree. So many seasons I've seen Ulster let teams off the hook by scoring only three tries at home in games we dominated, and in multiple seasons I've seen us finish third or fourth and lose an away semi-final. We want to win this competition and we need to finish top two to have the best possible chance of doing that, and you can bet many of the other teams with the same aspirations as us will be taking five points at home to the Dragons this season.

Yes, it's a calculated risk but after going 8-0 ahead the Dragons hadn't created a single opportunity so it was a good risk to take and the kind of game management that will hopefully pay off at the end of the season. We need to not worry about disrespect and work out what the best way for us to get as many points in the league stage as possible is and do it. If that means chasing the bonus point when we are at home to the sides who have traditionally struggled to pick up away wins I think that is actually quite smart. Since Gregor Townsend came into Glasgow it is certainly what they have been doing, and Joe Schmidt's Leinster were also very adept at making these fixtures count in terms of bonus points. As those are probably the two best sides since the Pro12 began it's not a bad example to follow.

The example I look to is the All Blacks who always take points on offer, because that is the best way to get tries later. I'm not advocating Ulster don't go out to get a bonus point but rather that they do so with a higher percentage of success.

Going for tries too early in the game risked a turnover and a breakaway that would then have forced Ulster to secure the win rather than go for the bonus in the closing stages. Ulster's pack may have been dominant in the set piece but they don't have any bulldozing ball carriers like Glasgow had with Nakarawa or Schmidt had with SOB - in other words the chances of scoring from 10 yards out were very slim unless a maul could be set up and that hadn't featured up to that point.

Ulster's best chance of the bonus was to take the easy six points on offer and then not have to worry about the risk of an intercept on a scoring pass or kicking away possession with a chip over the defence etc.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Notch on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 11:27 am

The All Blacks don't need to worry about chasing the bonus point as much I feel. They have a much higher conversion rate than most other teams. Often when they get into the 22, they leave with a try.

Ulster don't. Let's hypothetically say that on average across the whole season, our conversion rate is one try for every three visits to the 22. That means we need to engineer 12 possessions in the opposition 22 to get 4 tries. In that context penalty kicks to the corner become essential. I have no idea what our conversion rate is by the way, but I feel from watching us and NH rugby in general it's not amazing compared to Southern Hemisphere teams.

As I said before, there is an obvious risk but against bottom three teams at home you have to back yourself to not make those errors. Dragons did manage to get a try off the back of the kind of error you describe, but they didn't create many opportunities themselves. You have to have confidence you're a good team and you can deny other sides opportunities off your own mistakes.

The other reason the All Blacks aren't a good example to cite is because the only league stage competitions they play in have six games at most. Win them all and bonus points don't matter, and they often do win them all! However we have 22 games and the cumulative effect of bonus points over the whole season can add up to more than a win or loss. If we chased the try bonus point in six games and got it in five but lost the other as a result, thats still better than winning six and not getting any bonus points. The format of the competition heavily favours teams who can score the four tries.

Its still subjective, because it all comes down to risk and reward and mostly in sport these things are judged retrospectively. However since Ulster were able to be ruthless in the second half by scoring three tries and not conceding any points I don't think it was 'stupid' on this occasion. It obviously worked- they didn't misjudge the oppositions abilities to hurt us when they had the ball or misjudge their own ability to turn possession into tries. I don't think that it is a valid criticism.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Notch on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 11:31 am

Also worth noting that Ulster have scored tries off a rolling maul in two consecutive games now and the rolling maul has been the most dependable source of forward tries we'e had for several seasons. We're a good mauling side and sometimes it feels like the pack makes more yards off the maul than through carrying!

Dragons defended our maul pretty well I thought, and it was incredibly frustrating they caught us out with the old not engaging trick when we would have been looking to engineer a scoring opportunity in their territory. Still, we're right to be confident in our ability to score tries off the maul. We have great variety in our lineout and we are generally very accurate. Herring is in my opinion even better a lineout technician than Best now.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 12:04 pm

Notch wrote:Poor bugger left because he thought some first team rugby would give him a better chance of coming back and getting a spot on the wing for Ulster in two years. Instead he realises that Edinburgh are shoite the same weekend two Ulster Academy wingers score three tries between them. Not sure he'll have a shirt to come back to, but if he does return he'll add to the competition.

He could have started last night but Rob Lyttle got the opportunity because he left and he took it with two brilliant tries so I'm feeling a bit more sanguine over his decision to leave than I had been.

I bet he slept well last night knowing all that!

Edinburgh under Solomons is the graveyard of good wingers - Tim Visser was almost ruined having gone from one of the top NH attacking talents to a shadow of his former self. Luckily he moved to Harlequins before the damage was permanent! Dougie Fife, Will Helu - will Rory Scholes be next on the list?

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by GavinDragon on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 6:38 pm

Munchkin wrote:Commiserations, Dragons. Thought it would have been closer than that, but it's the first game of the season, it was away and it was against a pretty strong Ulster backline.

Ulster didn't start too brightly, but thankfully we worked our way into in the second half.

Really pleased for Kane. Thought he had a great game for his debut, and will go some way to easing the pressure at TH.

Herron's passing wasn't the sharpest, or his defence, but I wouldn't be too hard on him as it's his first game at this level, he's young and he has a lot of time to improve. He was probably a bit nervous and trying to force things a little. Thought his kicking from hand was very good though.

Lyttle is a wee gem. Took his try's well, and his second try was excellent. Stockdale only gets better. A real find.

I understand the feelings about bias. It's just Gusher. He's a very passionate Ulster supporter, and I suppuse he comes across as a bit one-eyed. It is BBCNI though, and will always be Ulster centric. Just the way it is angel

I think for me it is the way he commentates. He pre empts a referee's decision 'that looked forward from dragons there' rather than reacting to the referee's decision. Don't get me wrong if you are looking at a replay then call it forward but its when he does it "live" he bugs the hell out of me.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 7:00 pm

GavinDragon wrote:
Munchkin wrote:Commiserations, Dragons. Thought it would have been closer than that, but it's the first game of the season, it was away and it was against a pretty strong Ulster backline.

Ulster didn't start too brightly, but thankfully we worked our way into in the second half.

Really pleased for Kane. Thought he had a great game for his debut, and will go some way to easing the pressure at TH.

Herron's passing wasn't the sharpest, or his defence, but I wouldn't be too hard on him as it's his first game at this level, he's young and he has a lot of time to improve. He was probably a bit nervous and trying to force things a little. Thought his kicking from hand was very good though.

Lyttle is a wee gem. Took his try's well, and his second try was excellent. Stockdale only gets better. A real find.

I understand the feelings about bias. It's just Gusher. He's a very passionate Ulster supporter, and I suppuse he comes across as a bit one-eyed. It is BBCNI though, and will always be Ulster centric. Just the way it is angel

I think for me it is the way he commentates. He pre empts a referee's decision 'that looked forward from dragons there' rather than reacting to the referee's decision. Don't get me wrong if you are looking at a replay then call it forward but its when he does it "live" he bugs the hell out of me.

He does, Gavin, but he does it for both sides. That and getting mixed up with names, including those of Ulster players. On Friday evening it took him 7 minutes to realise our starting TH, Kane, had returned to the field after being pulled off for repairs Very Happy

It's just Gusher. He's part and parcel of the Ulster tradition now. If you look at the dedicated Ulster supports site, you will find a thread created just for his 'Gusherisms' (mistakes). He loves the game though, and is a massive Ulster supporter, which is probably why he tends to trip over himself.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by The Great Aukster on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 7:05 pm

Notch wrote:The All Blacks don't need to worry about chasing the bonus point as much I feel. They have a much higher conversion rate than most other teams. Often when they get into the 22, they leave with a try.

Ulster don't. Let's hypothetically say that on average across the whole season, our conversion rate is one try for every three visits to the 22. That means we need to engineer 12 possessions in the opposition 22 to get 4 tries. In that context penalty kicks to the corner become essential. I have no idea what our conversion rate is by the way, but I feel from watching us and NH rugby in general it's not amazing compared to Southern Hemisphere teams.

As I said before, there is an obvious risk but against bottom three teams at home you have to back yourself to not make those errors. Dragons did manage to get a try off the back of the kind of error you describe, but they didn't create many opportunities themselves. You have to have confidence you're a good team and you can deny other sides opportunities off your own mistakes.

The other reason the All Blacks aren't a good example to cite is because the only league stage competitions they play in have six games at most. Win them all and bonus points don't matter, and they often do win them all! However we have 22 games and the cumulative effect of bonus points over the whole season can add up to more than a win or loss. If we chased the try bonus point in six games and got it in five but lost the other as a result, thats still better than winning six and not getting any bonus points. The format of the competition heavily favours teams who can score the four tries.

Its still subjective, because it all comes down to risk and reward and mostly in sport these things are judged retrospectively. However since Ulster were able to be ruthless in the second half by scoring three tries and not conceding any points I don't think it was 'stupid' on this occasion. It obviously worked- they didn't misjudge the oppositions abilities to hurt us when they had the ball or misjudge their own ability to turn possession into tries. I don't think that it is a valid criticism.

It is precisely because the ABs have a prodigious try scoring record, that it is remarkable that they still take penalty points even though they often have the game already won. At the last RWC they scored 5.6 tries per game with everyone else less than four. The point is that tries are easier to come by once there is daylight between the teams and the ABs take every opportunity to put as much daylight between themselves and their opponents by taking shots at goal.

Of course if the game is running out of time then kicking for the corners is fine, or potentially if the opposition is down a man, or even if the place kick is from wide and not a gimme but when there is plenty of time it is stupid not to take the points.
The first situation was around the 50th minute and Herron kicked for the corner, which was OK as the kick for goal was long and Pienaar was off his game. The subsequent penalty inside the Dragons 22 was a gimme and should have been kicked - better teams will punish that lack of clinicality.
The later one was in the last 10 minutes but it was still a stupid call to go for the corner - Ulster had already got the bonus point but were still only two scores ahead. They should have secured the five point victory with the straightforward kick at goal rather than give the opposition any sniff.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by wayne on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 7:20 pm

The Great Aukster wrote:
Notch wrote:The All Blacks don't need to worry about chasing the bonus point as much I feel. They have a much higher conversion rate than most other teams. Often when they get into the 22, they leave with a try.

Ulster don't. Let's hypothetically say that on average across the whole season, our conversion rate is one try for every three visits to the 22. That means we need to engineer 12 possessions in the opposition 22 to get 4 tries. In that context penalty kicks to the corner become essential. I have no idea what our conversion rate is by the way, but I feel from watching us and NH rugby in general it's not amazing compared to Southern Hemisphere teams.

As I said before, there is an obvious risk but against bottom three teams at home you have to back yourself to not make those errors. Dragons did manage to get a try off the back of the kind of error you describe, but they didn't create many opportunities themselves. You have to have confidence you're a good team and you can deny other sides opportunities off your own mistakes.

The other reason the All Blacks aren't a good example to cite is because the only league stage competitions they play in have six games at most. Win them all and bonus points don't matter, and they often do win them all! However we have 22 games and the cumulative effect of bonus points over the whole season can add up to more than a win or loss. If we chased the try bonus point in six games and got it in five but lost the other as a result, thats still better than winning six and not getting any bonus points. The format of the competition heavily favours teams who can score the four tries.

Its still subjective, because it all comes down to risk and reward and mostly in sport these things are judged retrospectively. However since Ulster were able to be ruthless in the second half by scoring three tries and not conceding any points I don't think it was 'stupid' on this occasion. It obviously worked- they didn't misjudge the oppositions abilities to hurt us when they had the ball or misjudge their own ability to turn possession into tries. I don't think that it is a valid criticism.

It is precisely because the ABs have a prodigious try scoring record, that it is remarkable that they still take penalty points even though they often have the game already won. At the last RWC they scored 5.6 tries per game with everyone else less than four. The point is that tries are easier to come by once there is daylight between the teams and the ABs take every opportunity to put as much daylight between themselves and their opponents by taking shots at goal.

Of course if the game is running out of time then kicking for the corners is fine, or potentially if the opposition is down a man, or even if the place kick is from wide and not a gimme but when there is plenty of time it is stupid not to take the points.
The first situation was around the 50th minute and Herron kicked for the corner, which was OK as the kick for goal was long and Pienaar was off his game. The subsequent penalty inside the Dragons 22 was a gimme and should have been kicked - better teams will punish that lack of clinicality.
The later one was in the last 10 minutes but it was still a stupid call to go for the corner - Ulster had already got the bonus point but were still only two scores ahead. They should have secured the five point victory with the straightforward kick at goal rather than give the opposition any sniff.
Can I put in a viewpoint boys, on Friday we (Ospreys) had a penalty early on and in a central position not very far out, and we took the kicking option and went 3 points up, a few minutes later we were awarded another penalty and we kicked for the corner, when we could have kicked for goal, it eventually resulted in a 7 pointer, and for the rest of the game, we kicked for the corner, resulting nearly every time in a 7 pointer.
Last season we went for the 7 point option a number of times especially in RCC games, the prime example was against Clermont Auvergne away in which we got 2 bonus points, we had criticism here and on our own boards for using that gameplan.
I'll leave you to decide which was the best option for your team, but I can say there was a loud cheer at the liberty when the corner option was taken early on.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Don Alfonso on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 7:28 pm

I won't have a word said against Gusher. He's quick to praise good play from any quarter, he loves to waffle about long-forgotten Ulster Schools Cup facts, and he drops words like "ebullient", "fortuitous", and "calamitous" in without batting an eyelid. He comments on what he sees as he sees it, and doesn't defer to the ref's interpretations. Most of all, he's aware it's only a game. There's a fantastic streak of the Alan Partridge to him - "I thought he was going back to take the ball, but it looks like he can't be bothered" - and he just wants to see good rugby.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Notch on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 9:10 pm

Don Alfonso wrote:I won't have a word said against Gusher. He's quick to praise good play from any quarter, he loves to waffle about long-forgotten Ulster Schools Cup facts, and he drops words like "ebullient", "fortuitous", and "calamitous" in without batting an eyelid. He comments on what he sees as he sees it, and doesn't defer to the ref's interpretations. Most of all, he's aware it's only a game. There's a fantastic streak of the Alan Partridge to him - "I thought he was going back to take the ball, but it looks like he can't be bothered" - and he just wants to see good rugby.

He's a legend. But a completely marmite commentator because of it. Still, I'd much rather have a stale pint and a Werther's original with him than with any other commentator going!

I can't bear the thought of a generation of rugby fans growing up not knowing that Mike McComish played 10 for Campbell College in a Schools Cup Final.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Notch on Sun 04 Sep 2016, 9:18 pm

And you known what, people call him biased and he is biased but-

a) If the opposition do something genuinely brilliant he will warmly compliment it and not in a begrudging way; he loves seeing good rugby even if it's against his team. It takes a lot to get a compliment out of the other commentators on the BBC's local channels. You can have a guy run it in from 70m and they'll only mention the missed tackle, not the brilliant finish. It's really odd.
b) He will be genuinely critical of Ulster when they are not playing well, unlike his co-commentators who would praise any old shoite if Ulster were the ones spreading it. Many biased commentators just talk like their team is the best but he doesn't do that. It's not like watching England in the Six Nations where average play is made out to be brilliant and brilliant play provokes a messy and prolonged orgasm. If they are playing badly he'll call it and if they play well he'll say that too.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Senlac on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 1:29 pm

Just watched the highlights and have a question:

Why was Lyttle's first try allowed to stand?

It looked to me like he went down on a loose ball (fine), lost control of the loose ball (backwards, so no issue), however at that point, while lying flat on his stomach and not in possession of the ball, he reaches back, takes possession of the ball, and shifts it over the tryline, all while flat on his stomach.

Surely that is playing the ball on the ground, no?

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by marty2086 on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 1:56 pm

Id rewatch the highlights again if I were you, Lyttle was never in possession of the ball, the first time he touched it was when I think Macloed kicked it into him so he was never tackled and that allows him to play the ball


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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Munchkin on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 2:06 pm



Seems fair enough to me angel

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Senlac on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 4:17 pm

Maybe I'm seeing something others aren't, but he looks to be quite clearly lying flat on the ground when he first plays the ball, gather sit and places it over the line.

I always thought that if you were on the ground you were out of the game and could play the ball?

Hence the "playing the ball o the ground" rule.



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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by marty2086 on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 4:21 pm

Senlac wrote:Maybe I'm seeing something others aren't, but he looks to be quite clearly lying flat on the ground when he first plays the ball, gather sit and places it over the line.

I always thought that if you were on the ground you were out of the game and could play the ball?

Hence the "playing the ball o the ground" rule.



'A player who is not tackled, but who goes to ground while holding the ball, or a player who goes to ground and gathers the ball, must act immediately'

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Post by Senlac on Tue 06 Sep 2016, 4:29 pm

marty2086 wrote:
Senlac wrote:Maybe I'm seeing something others aren't, but he looks to be quite clearly lying flat on the ground when he first plays the ball, gather sit and places it over the line.

I always thought that if you were on the ground you were out of the game and could play the ball?

Hence the "playing the ball o the ground" rule.



'A player who is not tackled, but who goes to ground while holding the ball, or a player who goes to ground and gathers the ball, must act immediately'


Maybe that explains it. News to me though. Never knew you could do that.

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Re: Pro12: Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

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