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Ulster (0) 6 - 6 (3) Leinster,
Ravenhill, Belfast,
Att: 12,800,
Referee: Olan Trevor,
Saturday, 2nd December 2006, 7:30PM

A wet and windy Ravenhill was the setting of this top of the table clash as Leinster were looking to continue their excellent recent run against the Celtic League Champions. Ulster are formidable at home however, and a close encounter was always likely.

Early exchanges were scrappy and both teams were reduced to 14 men after 26 minutes when Matt McCullough and Fosi Pala'amo were sin-binned for fighting. Leinster started with Andy Dunne in place of the injured Felipe Contepomi, but it was Gordon D'Arcy who opened the scoring with half an hour gone with a drop goal after Dunne had missed an early penalty. Leinster failed to take further advantage of a massive wind advantage in the first half and were relieved to see David Humphreys miss a late penalty to keep the score 3-0 at half time.

Leinster challenged the Ulster try line more in the second half, with a tackle from Isaac Boss denying D'Arcy another 5 points. Leinster were always pressing and the forwards, in particular Gleeson and Heaslip, saw the away team dominate possession. Leinster should have scored again but Owen Finegan dropped the ball just short of the try line.

However it was Ulster who scored next with Humphreys converting a 60th minute penalty, and adding another 5 minutes later to give Ulster a 6-3 lead going into the final stages. D'Arcy replied with a penalty with ten minutes remaining to level the scores, and with Justin Harrison yellow carded shortly after, Leinster may feel that they should have gone on to win this tie.

As it was, the referee blew for full time after a truncated injury time period and the spoils were shared. Ulster remain top of the Magner's League, with Leinster three points behind and Scarlets sandwiched in between with two games in hand. Leinster also saw a serious injury to Fosi Pala'amo, who hobbled off with a minimum of a sprained ankle, and were left to reflect on the road home of two points lost.

Match Stats
  Ulster Leinster
Penalties D. Humphries (2) G. D'Arcy
Drop-goals   G. D'Arcy
Teams Bryn Cunningham, Mark Bartholomeusz, Paul Steinmetz, Paddy Wallace, Paul McKenzie, David Humphreys, Isaac Boss, Bryan Young, Rory Best, Simon Best, Justin Harrison, Matt McCullough, Neil Best, Kieron Dawson, Roger Wilson. Luke Fitzgerald, Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Denis Hickie, Andrew Dunne, Chris Whitaker, Ronan McCormack, Brian Blaney, Fosi Pala'amo , Trevor Hogan, Malcolm O'Kelly, Owen Finegan, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements Maggs for Wallace (54), Ferris for Dawson (65). Corrigan for Finegan (32), Finegan for Corrigan (37), Warner for Dunne (50), Corrigan for Pala'amo (57), Keogh for Finegan (65).

by Jim O'Connor, © 2006-12-02