Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

RBS 6 Nations: Ulster players fail to make impact for Ireland

Ulster's Andrew Trimble catches a ball for Ireland in midair against England at Twickenham
Ulster's Andrew Trimble catches a ball for Ireland in midair against England at Twickenham

This time there was precious little to cheer even though the margin of defeat was notably narrow.

All three Ulster starters were called ashore in the second half as an increasingly desperate Ireland threw everything they knew at the wall of determined white shirts in front of them.

Rory Best and Chris Henry were clearly considered to have expended their all when Joe Schmidt decided that Sean Cronin and new cap Jordi Murphy were going to have sufficient impact to turn the tide.

Best had been accurate at the lineout and had also shown up at the breakdown though he will hardly be happy at missing the frankly electric Mike Brown on two occasions. The scrums had also gone well but there had been no sign of the total dominance that had been hoped.

Still, to remove someone of Best's calibre with seven minutes to go was a big call even if he was spent.

Chris Henry's workrate is always high and he soldiered away in the dark areas of the tackle zone and even showed up to carry a few times as well. But England still seemed to have just that bit more control and physicality at the breakdown.

Again, Henry may have played himself to a standstill in what was a highly attritional game with the ball in play for long periods of action. Yet this was surely no time to introduce a rookie to the fray.

Andrew Trimble was certainly high profile but to mixed effect. He was there to hit Jonny May along with Conor Murray which, thankfully, led to the winger dropping the ball in the act of scoring early on – not it has to be noted the only time England blew a clear scoring chance with Owen Farrell hitting the upright with a penalty.

He then took a Johnny Sexton cross-kick but couldn't get the desired off-load to Rob Kearney with a try beckoning and then later in the move was held up short of the line.

Unfortunately, though, it all ended in frustration and just after losing a useful kick-chase, he put in a poor kick which allowed Jack Nowell attack and then was caught offside at a ruck and was fortunate when Farrell opted to kick for the corner instead of the posts.

Trimble also departed in the second half after 66 minutes of endeavour but little cutting edge. And though Henderson made some notable impact, Jackson could hardly do anything a minute from time.

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