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‘A’ team pass their difficult test in 13-try thriller

By Michael Sadlier

Ulster ‘A’ got the better of their Canadian counterparts in last night’s curtain-raiser at the Kingspan in a 13-try, 48-38 thriller which hung in the balance after a dramatic second half.

The home side looked home and hosed after leading 29-5 at the break, but the Canadians came roaring back in what was a feast of try-scoring. Johnny McPhillips opened the scoring with a fourth-minute penalty but the Canadians hit back nine minutes later when lock Conor Keys got over.

But it was Ulster ‘A’ who dominated the remainder of the period and winger Aaron Cairns scored, though McPhillips was wide with the conversion. They stretched the lead to 15-5 just before the half-hour when Zac McCall was driven over, McPhillips slotting home the conversion.

That became 22-5 just before half-time after Conor Field crossed with McPhillips converting and then McPhillips converted his own try to make it 29-5 at the break.

But the Canadians then grabbed two tries with first Kainoa Lloyd and then Gordon McRorie scoring with the latter converting his own.

Ulster’s Craig Trenier barged over in the 50th minute, Andy McGrath’s conversion stretching the home side’s lead to 36-17. But Canada came back again with two more quick-fire scores from Admir Cejanovic and McRorie, Robbie Povey converting both. They drew level with a try from Eric Howard, Povey’s conversion giving them a 38-36 lead.

Ulster responded with a super Nick Timoney try, wonderfully converted by McGrath, and Adam McBurney made sure of the win.

Ulster ‘A’: D Busby; C Kelly, M Best, R Butler, A Cairns; J McPhillips, A Lloyd; K McCall (capt), Z McCall, C Trenier, K Treadwell, A Thompson, N Timoney, C Boomer, S Mulholland. Replacements: A McBurney, T O’Hagan, M Lagan, P Cooper, A Burke, A Hall, M Rea, J Stewart, A Magrath, C Field.

Canada ‘A’: J Wilson-Ross, Kainoa Lloyd, S Hayward, G du Toit, D Moor, G McRorie, D Joyce; D Sears –Duru, A Mascott, C McClary, C Keys, L Albornoz, K Baillie, M Heaton, A Cejvanovic. Replacements: E Howard, P Houlihan, A Luca, A Wadden, N Dala, T Larsen, P Parfrey, R Povey, D Fraser, M Samson, R Kotlewski, A McMullan.

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