RaboDirect Pro12: Three talking points as Bowe inspires Ulster win
RaboDirect Pro12: Three talking points as Ireland international Tommy Bowe inspires Ulster to a 38-8 win
Brilliant Bowe bounces back
Ireland wing Tommy Bowe stormed back from a leg injury which had kept him out since November to score two tries at Ravenhill. The 30-year-old was explosive in attack and looks to have added bulk from the last time he graced a rugby pitch in anger – it was difficult to believe it was his first match back. As well as his all-out pace and evasive line running, his handling looked sharp and he was able to link up well with the rest of the Ulster backline. It was a performance that will surely have caught the eye of Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt before leaving the match mid-way through the second half. His partner in crime Darren Cave also tore through the Dragons at will; his strength and speed a huge threat and with the best offload stats in the Pro12 – it was a man-of-the-match performance which will have him labelled as Brian O’Driscoll’s replacement in the Ireland side for years to come.
Dreadful Dragons defence
After ending Glasgow Warriors’ 100 per cent away record last five days, the Dragons were woeful from the start in both attack and defence, but director of rugby Lyn Jones will be particularly disappointed with the way in which his side missed tackle after tackle in the first half. Even allowing for the brilliance of Darren Cave, Tommy Bowe and Ruan Pienaar, there very few positives for the Newport-based side to take back to South Wales. Less said about them the better.
Start the play-off party
There are still six rounds of the Pro12 to play this season, but with the Ospreys losing to Edinburgh tonight, Ulster are almost certain to find themselves involved in the semi-finals in May whatever the result between Leinster and Glasgow tomorrow night in Dublin. Ravenhill has proven to be a fortress for the Irish province in recent years and despite a full house for the 11th time this season, it was more of a subdued atmosphere with the game won so convincingly in the first half. With capacity set to increase before the end of the season with state-of-the-art facilities for players and fans, it’s about time the party started in Belfast ahead of the home Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens which has already sold out through season ticket sales. Irrespective of when TV broadcasters want to show matches, no other club in Europe can match the atmosphere on a Friday night at Ravenhill.