McFadden Goes Unpunished For Headbutt As Rea Wins It For Ulster

McFadden Goes Unpunished For Headbutt As Rea Wins It For Ulster

Academy prospect Marcus Rea scored what proved to be a match-winning try as an experimental Ulster side overcome an equally unfamiliar Leinster as the two wrapped up their Guinness Pro14 regular season fixtures.

The two will now look to the postseason playoffs, where Ulster will take home advantage into a semi-final qualifier against Connacht next weekend whilst Leinster have secured a direct route to the semi-finals that they will negotiate after their Champions Cup Final exploits on May 11th.

Today, it was the European finalists who drew first blood at Kingspan Stadium but not before a moment of controversy involving winger Fergus McFadden and Ulster No 8 Sean Reidy.

The game was fourteen minutes old when after a coming together in the midfield, the Leinster man seemed to throw his head in the direction of the New Zealander, but referee George Clancy failed to take any action despite consulting the TMO.


Full-back Jimmy O'Brien crossed for Leo Cullen's side after good work from Leinster set up the overlap on the half hour, however, Ross Byrne couldn't add the conversion.

Their lead didn't last too long as Ulster turned possession in the midfield into a scoring opportunity when Dave Shanahan broke the line before playing a one-two with Michael Lowry before rolling in for a try. Johnny McPhillips conversion edged the home side in front.

But it would be the visitors who would go on with the advantage at half-time when McFadden eventually got over the line, Leinster's offensive pressure paying off in first-half injury time.

In a second half, Leinster were reduced to fourteen men when Oisin Dowling saw yellow after a number of infringements in the 52nd minute and after a sustained period of Ulster pressure, back row Rea, who came on to join his brother Matty on the field, bulldozed over as the game entered the final quarter.

The 21-year-old's try was successfully converted by Peter Nelson and that proved enough for Dan McFarland's side to just sneak a win over their rivals.

Expect to see a much more recognisable Leo Cullen side take the field at St James's Park in two weeks time to face Saracens.

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Aaron Strain

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