Humphreys lands Ulster a lifeline

26th Oct 2007, 22:05

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Ulster dramatically snatched what could prove a vital 16-16 draw with Leinster in their previously stuttering Magners League campaign, with an injury-time penalty from second-half substitute David Humphreys ending his side's run of three straight defeats.

Ulster dramatically snatched what could prove a vital 16-16 draw with Leinster in their previously stuttering Magners League campaign, with an injury-time penalty from second-half substitute David Humphreys ending his side's run of three straight defeats.

It was a typically eye-catching performance from Humphreys who made an immediate impact after coming on early in the second half for Paddy Wallace by helping create Ulster's only try from Andrew Trimble in the 55th minute.

Humphreys then added a penalty and drop goal to draw Ulster level before Jonathan Sexton's late penalty seemed to have given the visitors a first win in three games.

Then up stepped Humphreys to snatch two points for his side who remain at the bottom of the table in spite of the points, thanks to Connacht drawing with Edinburgh in Galway.

Leinster, who welcomed back star players Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Shane Horgan and Girvan Dempsey, were unable to secure a win despite having the dominant pack where ex-Springbok Ollie Le Roux looked impressive.

Ulster, who also had their World Cup contingent playing, were largely on the back foot until Humphreys' inclusion and had to rely on some solid defending to keep them in the game.

But when the veteran fly-half showed the ball and put Bryn Cunningham away, who in turn fed Trimble for a well-worked try, Ulster's dramatic revival was under way.

Leinster dominated the opening 40 minutes but through a combination of poor finishing and being penalised with the line in sight, they only managed to build a 6-0 lead through the boot of Jonathan Sexton.

This at least allowed Ulster stay in touch even though their line-out and general forward effort were clearly badly malfunctioning.

They were driven over their own line to concede a 5m scrum from a line-out take, illustrating the difficulties being experienced by the home side up front.

The visitors opened the scoring after 18 minutes through Sexton as Leinster's pack turned up the heat on Mark McCall's men who managed one long-range and one short penalty attempts from Wallace in the first half.

Rob Kearney then nearly had a score from an O'Driscoll chip but it was ruled that Tommy Bowe had got downward pressure first.

Five minutes after the half hour, Sexton stretched Leinster's lead and the half ended with the visitors twice being penalised for holding on with the Ulster line within reach.

They did manage to score an early try on the resumption when D'Arcy was driven over from close range and Sexton's superb touchline conversion gave them what appeared to be an untouchable 13-0 lead.

But then Humphreys, accompanied by Justin Harrison, arrived on the pitch and the momentum was firmly with Ulster for much of the remainder as they forced a 16-16 draw.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Try:
Trimble
Con: Humphreys
Pens: Humphreys 2
Drop goal: Humphreys

For Leinster:
Try:
D'Arcy
Con: Sexton
Pens: Sexton 3

Ulster: 15 Bryn Cunningham, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Andrew Trimble, 12 Rob Dewey, 11 Mark McCrea, 10 Paddy Wallace 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Stephen Ferris, 7 Kieron Dawson, 6 Neil Best, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Carlo Del Fava, 3 Bryan Young, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Justin Fitzpatrick
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Declan Fitzpatrick, 18 Justin Harrison, 19 Roger Wilson, 20 Paul Marshall, 21 David Humphreys, 22 Mark Bartholomeusz

Leinster: 15 Girvan Dempsey, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (c), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Rob Kearney, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Chris Whitaker, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Stephen Keogh, 5 Malcolm O'Kelly, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Stephen Knoop, 2 Bernard Jackman, 1 Ollie Le-Roux
Replacements: 16 Brian Blaney, 17 Stan Wright, 18 Devin Toner, 19 Keith Gleeson, 20 Cillian Willis, 21 Christian Warner, 22 Luke Fitzgerald

Referee: George Clancey (Ireland)
Touch judges: Leo Coglan (Ireland), Tom Horkan (Ireland)