Connacht fall to a heavy defeat but done no favours by referee ClancyOctober 9, 2012 - 7:00am
Rob Murphy at Ravenhill
CONNACHT had a right to feel angry after this defeat. Eric Elwood wasn't in the form for chatting and one would guess that he and his squad felt they had been hard done by thanks to Limerick referee George Clancy.
Dan Parks spoke quietly to the official as the sides retired for half time. The sort of 'word in the ear' that clued-in experienced players exploit. However, it was too late to change the course of events which had Connacht trailing by 17 and down to 14 men.
In the heel of the hunt, the home side were a cut above Connacht at the breakdown and punished them accordingly. Ulster’s superiority and the sheer number of turnovers in that area meant the highly motivated Heineken Cup runners up were always going to win this one.
Yet Connacht could have taken a lot more from the game and the watching crowd of 10,052 could have been treated to a much better spectacle had the game not been halted by the referee’s whistle so often.
The score was 3-0 and the penalty count was 8-2 in Ulster's favour when Dave Gannon was sin binned for pulling down an Ulster maul that was inches from the Connacht line on 32 minutes. The decision itself seemed logical but came at the end of some questionable calls.
That said, the Connacht front row of Ronan Loughney, Adrian Flavin and Brett Wilkinson were losing the battle at scrum time and were penalised as a result. It wasn't until the second half when Denis Buckley and Nathan White were in situ that the tide turned in that area.
Struggles at set piece and Ulster's dominance at the breakdown played a part in the string of calls against Connacht, but they had reason to be frustrated as well. The key decision of the half came after the sin bin and following the penalty try that had put Ulster 10-0 ahead after a series of five metre scrum collapses.
For more, read this week's Connacht Sentinel.