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Lyttle inspires Ulster's 'A' team to verge of quarter-final spot

Ulster 'A' 25 Cornish Pirates 14

Doubling up: Rob Lyttle went over for two tries for Ulster ‘A’
Doubling up: Rob Lyttle went over for two tries for Ulster ‘A’

By Michael Sadlier

Ulster 'A' are on the cusp of making the last eight of the British and Irish Cup for the second season running after racking up a four-try bonus-point win over the Cornish Pirates at Shaws Bridge last night.

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Two tries from Rob Lyttle along with touchdowns from John Andrew and Zack McCall saw Kieran Campbell's men hit the front in Pool Five - taking pole position from the Pirates - and they are now five points clear of the Cornish men with just one game to play at the Scarlets next weekend.

One point will be sufficient to win the group though Ulster will clearly be going after more in order not to only finish the pool stages on a high but, more crucially, put themselves in a good position to earn a home quarter-final.

Ulster also managed to crucially deny the Pirates what would have been a vital losing bonus point after avenging their defeat in Penzance earlier in the competition with a committed display which thoroughly earned last night's result.

After falling behind to an early Pirates penalty, Ulster worked the ball right for Lyttle to get between two defenders to score with Peter Nelson's conversion making it 7-3 to the home side after 22 minutes.

Three minutes later, Andrew got over following a break down the left from Aaron Cairns though Nelson missed the extras.

The half ended with Laurence May kicking his second penalty and then missing a long-range effort, allowing Ulster to lead 12-6 at the break.

That became 12-11 two minutes after the restart when winger Alex O'Meara scored with May missing the difficult conversion.

Ulster now needed to hit back and did so in the 44th minute when replacement hooker McCall charged down a kick to dot the ball down, though Nelson failed to add the two points.

Campbell's men then had to survive some sustained pressure from the Pirates through a series of scrums close to the line. The Pirates still scored next, though, with a May penalty in the 66th minute cutting Ulster's lead to 17-14.

Four minutes later, Lyttle landed a penalty to stretch the lead to 20-14 and then he was on hand again to cross out on the right to secure the vital bonus point and deny the Pirates any return with his missed conversion not proving crucial.

Ulster 'A': J Owens, R Lyttle, C Patterson, R Butler, A Cairns, P Nelson, J Stewart; T O'Hagan, J Andrew (capt), T O'Toole, P Browne, C Ross, C Montgomery, M Agnew, M Rea. Replacements: Z McCall, E O'Sullivan, A Allison, J McCusker, M Stronge, C Swash, A Kernohan.

Cornish Pirates: K Moyle, A O'Meara, P Laverick, H Strong, D Koster, L May, A Day; M Walker, S Matavesi, J Andrew, T Freeman, B Beukeboom, J Caulfield, T Lawday, T Duncan. Replacements: C Judge, B Keast, C Morgan, R Cooper, M Pope, W Cargill, N Coronel

Referee: E Williams (WRU).

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