Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport

Ulster boys get their kicks in the nick of time


By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster assistant Dwayne Peel pointed to the character of his side after they secured a 30-29 win right at the death once again.

Having opened the PRO14 season with a last-gasp kick from John Cooney, there was a sense of deja vu at Kingspan Stadium last night as the scrum-half knocked the decisive points with the clock in the red.

Edinburgh had led 23-6 in the second half, only for a three-try blitz in the space of 15 minutes seeing the hosts storm back.

Simon Hickie gave Richard Cockerill's men the advantage once again only for his side to infringe in the 82nd minute. From some 40 metres out, Cooney was the hero for the second week running.

“I’m pleased with the spirit from the guys to get back and win that game,” said former Welsh international Peel. “There were a couple of tries we left out there for me but it shows good desire and determination.

“From the position we were in, we managed to fight our way back into the game. I thought it showed good spirit from us and we managed to finish off some really good plays in the second half.

“In the first half we had a few line breaks, similar to last week, and didn’t convert.

“But some of the stuff in the second half was good, both sides of the ball. We hustled hard in defence on occasion and we took some nice tries. I’m really pleased to be honest with you, it was a tough game.”

Cooney also got over for one of Ulster’s tries, joining Will Addison and man-of-the-match Craig Gilroy in crossing the whitewash, to ensure a personal haul of 20 for the game, following on from scoring all of Ulster’s 15 against Scarlets.

Peel, though, thinks there is more to come from the man who signed a long-term extension to his contract this week.

“He’s probably won that game for us with his goal-kicking,” he said. “But he needs to play a few more games, he probably needs to get a bit sharper to be perfectly honest.

“He’ll steal the headlines because he scored a try and kicked the goals, and he’s capable of that, but the more games he plays I think he’ll be quicker around the base and quicker to rucks.

“He’s played two games for us after a fractured pre-season because he came back late to us, but he’ll get better and better as the games go on, like we saw last year.

“He’s an invaluable member for us. His goal-kicking capability is top drawer, but I think around the park he’s really growing into a leadership role and a key role in terms of the way we want to play. But for me we need him to get sharper, and he will get sharper with the more games he plays.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph