Player Ratings | Cooney propels Ulster to European victory
Ulster looked to be getting the Heineken Champions Cup off to a good start when they traveled to Clermont for their opener of the new season.
After Leinster managed a flyer when they met in the first round against Bath, Ulster were hoping to secure the French club’s big scalp with a solid performance.
The visitors controlled the territory during the first part of the first half and followed from the start of the promising offensive phases. Stuart McCloskey was the Ulstermen’s lone try-scorer in the first half after breaking through the French defense.
It wasn’t until just before half-time for the hosts to respond with their first points, after a brilliantly weighted cross kick from Tani Vili was picked up by Damian Penaud. It was ultimately awarded by the TMO.
The second half seemed to be going in the direction of the hosts, as JJ Hanrahan came through the Ulster defense on several occasions. Penaud completed his double at the back of such a breakaway in the middle of the second half.
As Ulster’s backline continued to find loopholes throughout the game, the power of Clermont’s forwards smashed holes in the visitors’ defense, which was ultimately capitalized by Hanrahan and his backline. .
However, in the final 15 minutes of the game Ulster took advantage of Clermont’s indiscipline and a few technical details from the refereeing regarding the timing of the whistle, as Nick Timoney scored his second try to regain the advantage. at the end of the match.
A late penalty saved just one log point for the hosts as Ulster lost 29-23 winners.
Ulster player ratings
Andrew Warwick 6/10
The Ulster’s centerpiece has been hit and miss throughout, with the scrum in particular being either dominant or penalized with an alternating frequency. Other than the set pieces, Andrew Warwick couldn’t have made a huge impact as he wasn’t involved on either side of the ball and was substituted before really making inroads during the blackout either.
Rob Herring 7/10
One of three Irish hookers who Keith Wood says is at the top of his game, Rob Herring has been impressive for much of his match. While Clermont is a tough opponent to go through and dominate, especially up front, the hooker still managed to get ahead with his runs and was physical in defense as well.
Tom O’Toole 7/10
The forwards were always going to be under pressure against a physical team from Clermont. O’Toole’s performance off the ball was hit and miss, as was his front-row counterpart, however, it was defensively that he put in a marathon performance, making the second-most tackles and making his presence felt.
Alan O’Connor 7/10
While he wasn’t able to make any breakthroughs against Clermont’s powerful defense, it was Alan O’Connor’s defensive efforts that had a lasting impact on the game. The alignment also worked effectively, thanks to O’Connor’s leadership.
Kieran Treadwell 6.5 / 10
Treadwell and the Ulster forwards were harassed in the second half, as expected, by Clermont’s powerful pack. While he measured as well as he could have, it wasn’t the 26-year-old’s most impressive performance.
Marcus Rea 7.5 / 10
Marcus Rea was all over the park, making a major impact with his runs and also racking up some impressive defensive stats. He’s not the type to make the headlines, but maybe he should be.
Nick Timoney 7/10
Slightly eclipsed in the climb by the arrival of Duane Vermeulen, Nick Timoney will quietly go about his business to achieve a good performance on the side of the scrum. His try showed not only great whistle awareness but also his work off the ball to support his teammate in the long run, exemplifying what the loose striker brings to Ulster and Ireland.
Duane Vermeulen 7/10
Duane Vermeulen was quick in defense on the sidelines of the ruck, and defensively a huge factor for the visitors. While his debut for his new team should have been the one in which he dominated races, it was his mastery of the defensive line that really shone for the World Cup winner Springbok.
John Cooney 8.5 / 10
John Cooney was the one who kept the pressure on the hosts as his metronomic boot helped Ulster take their lead. It was essential to bring visitors back to the forefront after a brief period lagging behind Clermont. It was a complete performance that will remind Irish fans and managers alike that Nathan Doak is not the only exciting number nine in Ulster.
Billy Burns 7/10
As Cooney organized the attack and controlled the game, he was greatly aided by a calm, gathered Billy Burns outside of him. It wasn’t a night for the opening half to cover themselves in glory, but he was consistent and helped his team to the victory.
Ethan McIlroy 7/10
Ulster’s backline was dangerous from start to finish, but not as clinical as it could have been. McIlroy was one of those who walked a good number of yards, broke the line well and ran strong support lines, but was unlucky not to end up on the scoresheet. Defensively, however, there were a few gaps on his side resulting in a slightly reduced rating.
Stuart McCloskey 8/10
McCloskey scored the only try in Ulster’s dominant first half and looked menacing and physical from both sides of the ball. When Clermont led in the second half, a few key defensive shots from the center put Ulster back in the spotlight.
James Hume 7.5 / 10
Like the rest of the Ulster backline, James Hume threatened Clermont’s line on several occasions, breaking the line a few times and approaching to score himself. He made a few defensive mistakes, but it was a solid performance from the center.
Robert Baloucoune 6.5 / 10
Baloucoune had no chance of being injured in Van Tonder’s tackle, which ended a very promising first performance from the thrilling winger.
Michael Lowry 8.5 / 10
A brilliant breakthrough through the defense midway through the first half ultimately came to naught but spread them out on the pitch in good position nonetheless. He got involved in whatever was good for the visitors, did plenty of yards and let Clermont’s defense guess with every touchdown.
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