Delighted McLaughlin salutes Ulster’s young guns
Neath 15 Ulster 34: Ulster got themselves on track last night in south Wales where they chalked up an impressive 34-15 win against experienced Principality Premiership outfit Neath.
Coach Brian McLaughlin had promised to use the pre-season outings to blood youngsters and despite having gone down 40-3 to Bayonne in their first outing, he stuck to the plan.
Last night McLaughlin was fully vindicated and, having opted to include 18-year-olds in full-back Peter Nelson and centre Christopher Farrell plus Michael Allen (20) on the wing, the fledglings delivered for the coach, justifying the faith he had shown in them.
A delighted McLaughlin said: “I’m so pleased for all the boys. They played tremendously and our mixture of youth and experience really worked.
“Neath fielded a hard, very mature side, but our boys coped with that and came out with a great victory,” he added.
“That performance gives me great hope in the players we have coming through. I never like to single guys out but on this occasion I have to pay tribute to Peter (Nelson) and Christopher (Farrell) who are just out of school.
“To have stepped up and played like they did was exceptional. Young Blane McIlroy is another who was very impressive.
“The older players we included blended really well with the young lads. Lewis (Stevenson) led the side well while Robbie (Diack) and Willie (Faloon) both gave us a lot while they were on the pitch.
“In the first half some of the rugby we played was excellent,” he added.
“Neath, in fairness to them, came at us very hard after the break, but we finished the night really well by scoring two tries in the final 10 minutes.
“The lads kept going right to the end and it was great to see them able to do that.”
Ulster bagged three first-half tries with hooker John Burns, wing Craig Gilroy and No 8 Diack getting those.
The second-half try-scorers were replacement scrum-half McIlroy and Nelson, with Paddy Jackson adding the balance off the tee.
ULSTER: Peter Nelson; Michael Allen, Christopher Farrell, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy; Patrick Jackson, Stuart Olding; Paddy McAllister, John Burns, Adam Macklin; Lewis Stevenson (captain), Neil McComb; Michael McComish, Willie Faloon, Robbie Diack. Replacements: Andrew Warwick, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, James Simpson, Ali Birch, Blane McIlroy, Conor Gaston, Blane McIlroy.