Addison injury takes the shine off bonus-point win for Ulster over Lions
United Rugby Championship: Ulster 26 Lions 10
An injury to Will Addison took the shine off Ulster’s latest win as Dan McFarland’s side kept their perfect start to the season intact with a 16-point victory over the Emirates Lions.
The injury occurred in the 44th minute when Addison seem to land awkwardly after being tackled by two Lions players, and minutes later he left the field on a stretcher.
Addison’s Ulster career has been blighted by injury and this further setback looks likely to keep the Ireland international out for another lengthy period.
On the game however, McFarland will be delighted that his side recorded another bonus point win.
Only four minutes had elapsed when the first try of the evening arrived.
After Billy Burns kicked a penalty to touch, a clever lineout move saw Nick Timoney storm over from five metres.
Rob Herring threw short to the front of the lineout to Andrew Warwick, and the prop played in Timoney with a delightful pop pass to give Ulster the early initiative.
Ulster went close to extending their lead ten minutes later.
Herring made the initial break and was brought to ground just short of the Lions five metre line, but when the ball was recycled, Nathan Doak’s delayed pass was kicked away by Lions winger Rabz Maxwane.
The Lions silenced the large Kingspan crowd just three minutes later when Stean Pienaar went over after being played in by out-half EW Viljoen.
Like Ulster’s opening score, the Lions first try originated from a lineout and after a series of phases along the Ulster line, Pienaar had a simple run in to the corner.
Viljoen converted to give the Lions a two point lead, 7-5.
The homeside responded well from going behind and should’ve retaken the lead on 29 minutes.
Attacking down the left side of the Lions defence and moving the ball quickly through the hands, David McCann failed to gather Ethan McIlroy’s pass with the try line at his beckoning.
But the Ulster didn’t have long to wait for their second try.
Just five minutes later James Hume went over in the corner.
After building the phases patiently in the Lions ‘22’, a long pass from Burns took out the visitor’s defence to put the centre in for an easy finish.
Doak converted to give Ulster a five point cushion, but with just two minutes of the half remaining, Viljoen cut the gap to two by kicking a penalty after Ulster were penalised in midfield, meaning the sides went in at the break with Ulster ahead 12-10.
Ulster started the second half with a lot more purpose, and despite the setback of losing Addison, the homeside extended their lead in the 47th minute.
After winning a penalty just metres from the Lions line, Ulster decided to run the ball and Matty Rea went over for Ulster’s third try of the evening.
Doak converted to push Ulster’s lead out to nine points.
The bonus point try arrived on 67 minutes when Timoney went over for his second try of the evening and Doak’s conversion wrapped up a 26-10 victory.
Ulster: W Addison, E McIlroy, J Hume, S Moore, G. Gilroy, B Burns, N Doak, A Warwick, R Herring, T O’Toole, A O’Connor, S Carter, M Rea, N Timoney, D McCann.
Replacements: B Roberts, E O’Sullivan, R Kane, K Treadwell, S Reidy, D Shanahan, M Lowry, B Moxham.
Emirates Lions: D Rossouw, S Pienaar, M Rass, B Odendaal, R Maxwane, EW Viljoen, A Warner, A Sithole, J Visagie, C Sadie, R Schoeman, R Nothnagel, S Sangweni, V Tshituka, R Straeuli.
Replacements: PJ Botha, R Dreyer, A Ntlabakanye, W van der Sluys, E Tshituka, M van den Berg,
F Zeilinga, W Simelane.
Referee: Mr Mike Adamson (SRU)