| 19°C Belfast

Ulster's Stuart Olding's outing brief and bright


Closed down: Ireland’s Darren Cave is tackled by Lasha Khmaladze and Merab Sharikadze of Georgia

Closed down: Ireland’s Darren Cave is tackled by Lasha Khmaladze and Merab Sharikadze of Georgia

?INPHO/Colm O'Neill

Closed down: Ireland’s Darren Cave is tackled by Lasha Khmaladze and Merab Sharikadze of Georgia

Three Ulster players were in the starting line-up yesterday and yet the one who left the most abiding impact began the afternoon on a watching brief as Stuart Olding was perched on Ireland's bench until he was let loose with less than 20 minutes to go.

It was only Olding's second appearance in an Ireland shirt and he walked off the Lansdowne Road sward not only having helped create one try but he had also even managed to cross the line himself to make it a particularly special occasion by claiming his first international touchdown. Quite the cameo really.

The now 21-year-old had won his first Irish cap back in 2013 on the tour to North America and with injury having wiped out darn near the whole of last season, Olding was clearly itching to be involved again and certainly made his presence felt after being called into the action in the 63rd minute.

In fairness, the game was already in the bag with Darren Cave, Craig Gilroy and Robbie Diack - Ulster's three starters - already having contributed much to the cause but Olding wanted in on things as well.

With the Georgians well softened up at this stage and trailing 30-7 after Ian Madigan had converted Simon Zebo's score - Ireland's third try at that point - there was space to be found for a fresh pair of legs and Olding was on hand to give Felix Jones the ball and the chance to score which Jones took with aplomb.

Not bad, and he handled in the build-up to Jones's second as well but then things got rather better when, running a switch move in midfield, Olding got the ball and made the line himself for what proved to be Ireland's sixth and final try of the afternoon.

While Olding was undoubtedly rather pleased with his contribution, Cave used his first 'home' appearance - his eighth cap in all - to remain industrious and totally committed without quite ever putting his complete stamp on the game.

His high pass to Ulster team-mate Craig Gilroy could not be held by the winger and Cave might also regret kicking the ball forward in that same first half when he found himself in space on the right wing.

But, as the game wore on, he grew into it and was involved in helping carve out Zebo's try as indeed was Gilroy who was halted on a typical run towards the line. Indeed, it was a rather similar story for both Gilroy and Diack who each had their moments with the former never quite getting the service or the space to really make his dazzling feet work him free while the latter did, ultimately, put in a good enough shift as Ireland's maul got on top.

Even so, Gilroy's first Ireland outing since the Six Nations in 2013 will have done him good while Diack should get the chance to, at some point, add to what was his second cap.

Belfast Telegraph