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Chris Henry: Veteran Darren Cave is proving that he has plenty left to offer Ulster

Darren Cave
Darren Cave
Chris Henry

By Chris Henry

A good few years ago, probably thinking of Neil Back at Leicester Tigers, a seven with the ball in his hands at the back of an Ulster maul was commonplace. I didn't score many tries through my career, but when I did that tended to be how I got them.

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Then, all of a sudden, a coach switched it up and we started going with the hooker carrying at the back. I still remember the smug look on Rory Best's face in that meeting. I was devastated. Absolutely devastated.

Well, Rob Herring was the beneficiary for Ulster against Zebre on Saturday night and a hooker scoring a hat-trick certainly isn't something you see every day. The maul was something Dan McFarland really honed in on when he arrived and you have to say it's been much improved this year.

As for the rest of the performance, Ulster got the job done.

It was great to see a few young guys showing up in James Hume and Jonny Stewart, while Rob Lyttle is someone you want to see do well after that bad run of injuries he had.

A word for Darren Cave on the day he became Ulster's second most capped player. Again he proved that he's still someone who can do a job for a coach.

There were a few half-breaks from him, showing some of the pace of old, and I think it's sometimes overlooked that he's still only 31-years-old.

He'll have Andrew Trimble's caps record in his sights now, I'm sure.

Edinburgh's loss made it a great weekend for the play-off and Champions Cup chase, but Ulster will know, especially with their run-in, that there are bigger challenges ahead.

When you look at Zebre though, as much as they're missing their Italian players, they've conceded 61, 40 and now 54 in their last three games against Cheetahs, Leinster and Ulster. Obviously you won't win any games defending like that.

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