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Campbell upbeat after 'A' team dig deep for victory

Ulster 'A' 24-18 Scarlets Select

By Michael Sadlier

As opening performances go, Ulster 'A' got the result they wanted and collected a creditable four points to kick-start their campaign in this season's British and Irish Cup.

There were quibbles, though, none more so than their failure to push on to take maximum points after the strong-running Jack Owens barrelled over for Ulster's third try at Banbridge's Rifle Park not long after the hour.

At that stage, the home team led 24-13 but, as things turned out, Owens' try was the last score head coach Kieran Campbell's side managed against the Scarlets Select.

But that shouldn't detract from the positive narrative of this game which saw Ulster - led by prop Ross Kane and with experienced pros Peter Browne and Andy Warwick in a side with the emphasis very much on youth - really dig in to overhaul an early 13-0 deficit.

Eye-catching shifts were put in by scrum-half Aaron Cairns and number eight Joe Dunleavy - who both happened to score as well - while Johnny McPhillips kicked nine points and made four from five of his shots at goal.

The Scarlets though - who like Ulster made last season's quarter-finals - finished strongly and earned themselves a losing bonus point which also took a little bit of the shine from Ulster's efforts.

Still Campbell was reasonably satisfied at what had been achieved ahead of next Sunday's trip to Cornish Pirates who won 35-19 at Hartpury College.

"First game, first win and in any tournament pool you need to get off to a good start," said the Ulster Academy manager.

"And we won with a nice mixture of senior and younger players who blended very well.

"We put in a solid performance. We did let them in for easy scores early on, but we got ourselves back and then pushed on to complete the job."

As for facing the Pirates next, Campbell said, "It's a different type of challenge and the Cornish Pirates are much more physical and combative.

"But we're confident and if we can play with that resolve and energy again then we've got a pretty exciting time ahead."

After going 13-0 down, Cairns and Dunleavy scored tries and two McPhillips conversions along with a penalty saw them lead 17-13 at half-time.

Owens scored four minutes after the hour and McPhillips put Ulster 24-13 up before a last minute try from the Scarlets earned them their bonus point.

ULSTER A: J Owens, D Busby, C Patterson, R Butler, A Kernohan, J McPhillips, A Cairns; A Warwick, A McBurney, R Kane, J Regan, P Browne, C Montgomery, A Hall, J Dunleavy

Replacements: B Herron for Owens 36mins, M Dalton for Browne 51mins, M Cromie for Kane and G Jones for Dunleavy both 75mins

SCARLETS SELECT: M Williams, T Prydie, I Nicholas, S Hughes (capt), R Conbeer (B McBryde 79), R Jones (J Maynard 59), D Smith, R Fawcett, E Yardley (M Moore 80), J Sebastian (S Thomas 79), J Helps, J Jones, S Worrall (D Davies 63) S Evans, J Condy

Referee: K Dickson (RFU)

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