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I bale out as Ulster pull off great escape in the Alps

By Billy Weir

Published 14/01/2016

Tyrone Howe
Tyrone Howe

Okay, hands up time, I have a confession to make. I sold out on Ulster at half-time on Sunday and can't even make up a story that I scarpered early to avoid the traffic in the living room.

I did have the presence of mind though to video the game (this actually means Sky+ but old habits die hard) so I did manage to catch up with one of the greatest comebacks from the dead since Bobby Ewing.

The plot in Oyonnax was about as far-fetched as Dallas, Ulster desperate for a win in the Alps but in the opening period they were simply, well, desperate.

Ulster's best performer was Tyrone Howe and he was stuck back in a studio in Sky's underground lair joined by presenter James Gemmell, son of Archie, and Pat Sanderson, nothing to Tessa as far as I am aware.

"Ulster are going to go out saying 'we're going to score tries, you might score against us'" and he was right, well, half right while Sanderson confidently predicted "we'll know the outcome of this match in the first 10 minutes". Or not.

It was catching, co-commentator over in France, Dewi Morris (no sign of Hewi or Lewi) calling on Ulster to be "pragmatic and precise" only to see them be something altogether more unpleasant beginning with 'P'.

Things weren't looking good and Morris was forced to delve deep into his Big Boy's Book of Medical-related Rugby Cliches almost immediately saying that Ulster coach Les Kiss who, incidentally, appears to look like all the characters in board game Guess Who, "needs to get some sticking plaster out there".

A Band-Aid wouldn't have helped at this stage, Bob Geldof would have left them to it muttering that he didn't like Sundays, and Dr Morris was bemoaning the fact that Ulster's Kyle McCall's cut head was being treated with "magic spray, it used to be the sponge in my day".

It seemed to work, 23-0 down at the break and dead and buried seemingly and Howe knew why.

"I barely know what to say," said Howe barely and then recovered his senses.

"It's the worst 40 minutes I've seen from Ulster in many a season (clearly forgetting the game against Munster). A lack of intensity, a lack of urgency, a lack of togetherness and a lack of leadership."

We were glad he could barely say anything and while I baled out and watched a very entertaining episode of Escape To The Country, little did I know that there was an even greater one being crafted in France.

They won 24-23, McCall even making light of looking like Rab C Nesbitt (nothing to Mike) to dive over and score a try and at the end looked less shaken and stirred than Howe.

"Never in doubt, obviously," he beamed as we all collectively climbed out of Bobby's shower and wondered if it really happened.

Belfast Telegraph

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