Match Report: Ulster A 48-38 Canada A

Kyle McCall captained the Ulster A team

Kyle McCall captained the Ulster A team

Ulster A won a pulsating pre-season friendly against Canada A at the Kingspan Stadium, triumphing 48-38.

Ulster started the stronger and, despite not crossing with their first attack, openside flanker Conall Boomer showed some strong back row work in winning a penalty, which fly half McPhillips converted.

Even though the hosts were the stronger team in the early exchanges, the Canadians notched the first try of the game when lock Conor Keys smashed over from close range after an initial surge from Admir Cejvanovic.

Ulster kept knocking on the door and, after several missed opportunities, they finally got their first try of the game when Aaron Cairns slid onto a grubber kick through and dotted down for the score in the 23rd minute.

McPhillips couldn’t convert from out wide, but he did add the extras five minutes later when Ulster’s forward dominance shone through and they rumbled a maul over from five metres out.

Not content with that, the Ulstermen added two late first half scores through winger Conor Field and McPhillips.

Substitute Field was the benefactor of an excellent break from centre Rory Butler, who was able to give the ball inside, allowing quick hands to send Field over in the corner.

And then McPhillips, who converted the final two scores of the half, scored a five pointer himself, making the initial break from his own half into the Canadian 22 and then finishing the move off under the posts on the stroke of half-time.

Whatever Mark Anscombe said to Canada at half time worked, because they came out in the second half a changed side and scored the opening try of the half after just 41 seconds when winger Kainoa Lloyd gathered a kick through and ran in for the score.

They weren’t done there either, and two minutes later they scored again, Cejvanovic making the break that sent McRorie over for their first converted score of the game.

All of a sudden the game had once again become a contest with the Canadians’ half-time replacements giving them an air of superiority.

But the hosts consolidated their lead when prop Craig Trenier had the simple task of flopping over the line with the ball after Angus Lloyd was held just short, with new man Field landing an excellent touch line conversion.

Not to be outdone, Canada came straight back and they brought the game to within a score with two tries in three minutes, firstly when one of their forwards squeezed over on the line, and then McRorie notched his second after he was set over by winger Dan Moor.

Another raft of substitutes slowed the game down briefly, but the visitors took the lead just after the hour mark when substitute hooker Eric Howard found a small gap at the line and wriggled over for the try.

The way the game had gone in the second period, it looked like that might be the winning score, but Ulster were to add two late tries for a hard fought win.

The first came from man of the match Nick Timoney who showed great feet to step inside Canadian fullback Jordan Wilson-Ross to touch down, before hooker Adam McBurney rounded off the scoring from the back of another dominant maul.