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Gutsy Ulster play a stormer

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Jim Neilly | 18:21 UK time, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Didn't Ulster do well? A deserved win over Leinster has taken them to the top of the Magners League for the first time in four years.

The biggest crowd of the season to date, the worst weather imaginable, and the gutsiest display for some time all combined to make it a memorable night.

Ulster and Leinster played in stormy conditions at Ravenhill.jpg

Without meaning to carp, it might all have been different had the conditions been better, as Leinster's multi-talented backs were presented with few opportunities to excel.

But it is the same out there for both sides!

The difference was that Ulster coped better, winning the toss and electing to play into a gale that blew straight up the Ravenhill pitch towards the War Memorial end, and the Ulster pack played controlled, percentage rugby.

Top marks to props BJ Botha and big Tom Court in particular, who nullified Leinster's scrummaging efforts and, time and again, made the hardest of yards, aided by Messrs Brady, Faloon and Nagusa, with the Fijian flyer seizing every opportunity to mix it with the grunt and grind mob up front.

Didn't he just remind you of David Irwin and Trevor Ringland who regarded themselves as extra back row men a generation ago?

Now it is back on the road and a trip to Thomond Park where Munster memories of a walloping at Ulster hands will be fresh and painful.

Munster have had their problems in terms of injury, especially in the front row but, after an insipid display at Murrayfield, they will be in no mood to let Ulster turn them over for a fourth successive time. It is shaping up to be the sort of game where you might have to be over 18 to watch!

Have Ulster got what it takes to stay at the top of the league table?

Always a man to pick on current form, has Declan Kidney been a little bit on the mean side, from an Ulster perspective, in naming just six of Brian McLaughlin's men in a 39-strong panel for the November Guinness tests?

Isaac Boss has slipped down the scrum-half pecking order to fourth at best, it seems, despite a corking display against Leinster, and Ryan Caldwell has lost out to Leinster skipper Leo Cullen - no spring chicken - and another Leinster man, the lofty Devin Toner.

No place for Willie Faloon either, though I suspect he will feature, as will a few of his fellow Ulsterman against Tonga and the Argentinian Jaguars in the 'A' fixtures.

Good to see Chris Henry in the squad, likewise Neil Best who captained Ireland to a famous Churchill Cup win in the summer.

But the standout number eight in the Guinness Premiership this season has been Roger Wilson, Best's fellow Saint, who has again been ignored. A man contemplating a return to Ravenhill, perhaps?


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