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Ulster 24-26 Connacht ratings: Cooney, Timoney and Rea impress but province can't avoid defeat

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Ulster's Nick Timoney makes a break against Connacht (INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

Ulster's Nick Timoney makes a break against Connacht (INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ulster's Nick Timoney makes a break against Connacht (INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

Ulster lost their opening game of the Rainbow Cup as they fell to a late 26-24 defeat to Connacht at Kingspan Stadium.

There were some players who came out of the game with some credit despite ending up on the wrong end of the scoreline heading into next week's Challenge Cup semi-final with Leicester Tigers.

Michael Sadlier gives his ratings...

Starting XV

Jacob Stockdale - 6

His previous game at the back was in January, allowing him more ball and he crossed in the first half. Another well-timed showing and made way for Addison.

Robert Baloucoune - 5

Produced one run and kick ahead in the opening exchanges and also showed his kick-chase skills. Really ought to have done better with a late chance.

James Hume - 6

Like Moore, he took some punishment from the Connacht defence but was, as usual, effective in what he produced and a great break in the lead-up to Burns’ score.

Stewart Moore - 5

A few neat touches but was swamped by Connacht’s suffocating defence in the first quarter and felt it. He seemed to fade as the game wore on.

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Ethan McIlroy - 5

Wasn’t that busy in the opening half but looked sharp and lively when on the ball but just didn’t get enough chances to show what he can do.

Billy Burns - 6

After a strong performance at the Saints he was again in form with some lovely and ambitious touches and a neat try. Was badly smashed for Blade’s score.

John Cooney - 7

Hitting his straps at just the right time, put in a vital early hit on Boyle and continued with some other quality tackles. He missed a few too though.

Andrew Warwick - 5

A rare start for the Ballymena man, he did his primary job well and the scrums were stable on his side. He even popped up for some carries.

Rob Herring - 6

Scored three tries in his previous two games and along came another form a driving maul again. His work done, he made way for John Andrew.

Tom O’Toole - 6

Only his third start of the season, there were some strong carries in an impressive opening half and the scrums seemed reasonably solid too.

Iain Henderson - 6

In what was only his third Ulster game this term, and his first since October, his return from injury was about getting him up to speed again.

Kieran Treadwell - 6

Teamed with Henderson in Ulster’s most dynamic lock combination, he was hungry for action and presumably went off with the Tigers game in mind.

Matty Rea - 7

His first start since January’s clash with Munster, he gave away an early penalty but got stronger from there and made some big hits and carries.

Sean Reidy - 6

Made a notably good carry in the lead up to Stockdale’s touchdown and with Ulster under pressure he won a vital jackal turnover.

Nick Timoney - 7

Good early jackal helped prevent an early score and then got so close with a superb burst. Looked strong again on a challenging evening.

Replacements

Eric O’Sullivan (for Warwick, 68 mins) - 5

John Andrew (for Herring, 52 mins) - 5

Ross Kane (for O’Toole, 61 mins) - 4

Alan O’Connor (for Henderson, 47 mins) - 4

Greg Jones (for Treadwell, 61 mins) - 4

Dave Shanahan (for Cooney, 61 mins) - 5

Michael Lowry (for Burns, 68 mins) - 6

Will Addison (for Stockdale, 48 mins) - 6


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