Controversial finish as Ulster edge Cardiff who lose Taulupe Faletau to injury

Planet Rugby
Ulster scrum-half John Cooney kicking.

Ulster scrum-half John Cooney kicking.

Ulster scrum-half John Cooney kicked a late penalty goal to seal a 19-17 victory in their United Rugby Championship clash with Cardiff at Kingspan Stadium on Friday.

However, the three-pointer was marred with controversy after Cardiff prop Rhys Carre was penalised for a deliberate knock-on, an offence the forward strenuously denied.

The Wales international was sent to the sin-bin for his protest to referee Mike Adamson before Cooney stepped up to kick the match-winning effort from in front of the posts.

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Earlier Cardiff had lost number eight Taulupe Faletau to injury in his comeback game in a cruel blow for the Wales international, who looked to be nursing another arm issue.

Theo Cabango went over for a pair of tries for the visitors with Tinus de Beer converting both and adding a penalty.

David McCann scored Ulster‘s only try but a pair of penalties from Nathan Doak and a conversion from Cooney proved crucial.

Cardiff opened the scoring after 11 minutes when winger Cabango ran through some soft defence after coming in on an angle from a lineout. De Beer converted to put the visitors 7-0 ahead.

This had followed an error-ridden opening period from the Irish province which had seen Doak miss touch with two penalties and Will Addison throw a forward pass to Michael Lowry.

There were no further scores until the 27th minute – by which stage Ulster had lost centre James Hume to injury – when Doak got Ulster off the mark with a penalty much to the relief of the home crowd.

After failing to score from two driving mauls, Ulster did register a score, Doak landing the penalty to narrow Cardiff’s lead to a solitary point.

The new half opened with Cabango’s second try, the winger skinning Ulster out wide and arcing in to score under the posts and allow De Beer the conversion to take Cardiff’s lead to 14-6.

More damage then came Ulster’s way when Jacob Stockdale was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on after 48 minutes though the province survived his 10-minute absence without conceding.

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Indeed, just before Stockdale returned a penalty was kicked to the corner and though the possession was scrappy, McCann was the one to surge over the line.

Cooney, on for Doak, converted and Cardiff now led 14-13.

Cooney then stepped up again and kicked a long-range effort in the 65th minute when Cardiff were penalised at a breakdown, putting the home team in the lead for the first time in the game.

Then with less than 10 minutes to go Jude Postlethwaite was pinged at a breakdown and De Beer put the visitors back in the lead.

With two minutes remaining, and Ulster on the attack Carre was adjudged to have knocked on from Cooney’s pass and play was called back – Cabango having scored what he believed was his hat-trick at the other end – the replacement hooker was yellow carded, and Cooney was presented with the chance to go for the posts.

He nailed it and Ulster held on for what remained to win.

The teams

Ulster: 15 Will Addison, 14 Mike Lowry, 13 James Hume, 12 Jude Postlethwaite, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jake Flannery, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Dave McCann, 7 Marcus Rea, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Alan O’Connor, 4 Harry Sheridan, 3 Scott Wilson, 2 Tom Stewart, 1 Eric O’Sullivan
16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Cormac Izuchukwu, 20 Greg Jones, 21 John Cooney, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Ethan McIlroy

Cardiff: 15 Cam Winnett, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Ellis Bevan, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Alex Mann, 5 Teddy Williams, 4 Ben Donnell, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Liam Belcher (c), 1 Corey Domachowski
16 Rhys Carré, 17 Evan Lloyd, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Mackenzie Martin, 22 Gonzalo Bertranou, 23 Jacob Beetham

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Cole (IRFU), Sam Holt (IRFU)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (SRU)

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