Gregor Townsend’s men have made quite an impressive start to the PRO12 season. Clearly still smarting after their heart-breaking defeat by Leinster in last season’s final, the Warriors came flying out of the traps and gained revenge on the champions on the opening day of this season. They also negotiated their way against Pat Lam’s high-spirited Connacht side, but the Warriors have come undone at the third time of asking against Irish opposition. Some handling errors by Finn Russell and Euan Murray allowed Ulster to take advantage, with Tommy Bowe benefiting from a fumble by Murray that saw the Ulster man run through for his side’s second and killer try .The Warriors have looked so strong thus far, but Ulster have put a dent in their armour and shown they are beatable – and human. Despite the setback, head coach Townsend is confident his side can put this result behind them and continue to cause opposition problems. Their next PRO12 match is against struggling Treviso on Halloween. You feel Umberto Casellato’s men could be potentially onto a serious backlash from the wounded Warriors.
Or simply just turn up to Ravenhill (now rebranded as the Kingspan Stadium) at the weekend and support your team. This is exactly what the proud people of Ulster have being doing in impressive numbers this season. Ulster have had the highest gates this season, aside from Leinster’s defeat by Munster at The Aviva last weekend. Leinster are averaging 14,000 fans at the RDS, Munster at Thomond is 13,000 on average, while the Ulstermen are attracting 15,000 fans for their home games. Ulster are unbeaten at home this season, as their recent victory sees them looking strong in third, only one point behind the second place Warriors.
This Ulster side is awash with talented Ireland internationals such as Bowe, Paddy Jackson, Andrew Trimble, Craig Gilroy, and, of course, their talisman Rory Best. Ulster captain Best put in another man of the match performance against the Warriors, and this was on the back of his fine performance against Edinburgh, with Ulster coming out 30-0 as the hooker added a try late on in that game. Best may not have got on the score sheet against the Warriors but he was instrumental in his side’s performance and the Ulster man and his fellow compatriots are hitting form at the right time, not just for their team’s chances of the top four, but for their country also. Ulster were coached by Irish assistant coach Les Kiss right up until this weekend when Neil Doak was confirmed as the new Ulster head coach. Bowe, Jackson, Trimble, Cilroy and Best will all have made quite the impression on Kiss. His attention will go back to Irish affairs ahead of a big year of international rugby which starts with the autumn international series followed by the highly competitive Six Nations, which will act as a predecessor for the 2015 World Cup in England. As the chant in Ravenhill goes, “stand up for the Ulster men”, Best and his men need to remain at their best and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be a health contingent of Ulster men wearing the green over the next nine months.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge