Two wins from two games and an away victory over the champions — not too shabby a start from our boys. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but the job got done and Ulster proved difficult to beat, displaying a tough edge, sumptuous skill for Paul Marshall’s try, and a collective belief to stay in the game and not simply settle for a bonus point.
It augurs well for the rest of the season as Ulster can and will play a lot better than this.
What is also becoming increasingly striking is the strength in the depth of the squad — Afoa, Court, Trimble and Ferris might have been the most notable names on the bench but Brady, McCombe and Marshall all played their part, each having a role in the latter's try, while Paddy Jackson added the points. Ulster’s display was marked by one particular performance — Nick Williams.
This is a man for harvest time as he tossed Ospreys’ players around like hay bales.
His contribution combined powerful ball-carrying, competing and winning ball at the breakdown, some telling offloads and his pass to John Afoa to keep the try-move alive was exquisite in terms of vision and execution. Together with Stephen Ferris, his sheer strength and physicality is going to cause serious problems for teams and I expect him to get better and better as his match fitness improves. What also struck me as impressive was that Ulster conjured up penalty opportunities in the two minutes either side of half-time. While they may not have been converted into points, it proved that Ulster’s concentration was focused right up to and after the halfway mark.
Ulster will seek a better return in terms of possession and territory against Munster but it is a decent start which should continue this Friday. Bragging rights are again on the line.