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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 20:17 GMT 21:17 UK
Ulster edge out Neath
Try-scorer Bryn Cunningham is congratulated by Ulster team-mates.
Bryn Cunningham (centre) celebrates his try
Celtic League - Pool A
Ulster 17-13 Neath

A depleted Ulster produced a gutsy performance to keep their Celtic League hopes alive at Ravenhill.

Looking jaded early on against an unbeaten Neath side, Ulster dug deep into the reserves to claw out a wonderful victory.

Ulster's forwards deserve the praise with a non-stop effort with flanker Neil McMillan outstanding.

The Welsh kingpins had started the more confident team against an Ulster side who lost stand-in skipper Matt Sexton just before kick-off with sickness.

  Match details:
Tries: Cunningham, Howe
Pens: Doak
Cons: Doak 2
Tries: S Williams;
Cons: Jarvis;
Pens: Jarvis 2

Sexton became the 10th first-choice player unavailable to play and Jeremy Davidson took over the captaincy - the fourth Ulster skipper in as many games this season.

Not surprisingly it was the big boot of Lee Jarvis that opened the scoring with an angled penalty in the 17th minute.

But it was a scything cut through the Ulster midfield by Welsh winger Shane Williams that produced the opening try of the game in the 27th minute.

Jarvis converted and Neath were well set at 10-0.

Ulster's James Topping helped Ulster to a 17-13 win over Neath
James Topping makes a break for Ulster

Trouble at the scrum, however, saw Neath tight-head Duncan Jones yellow carded and Neil Doak finally got Ulster on the board with a 35-metre penalty in the 33rd minute.

That seemed to knock Neath off their tight and simple rhythm and Ulster were right back on level terms at the break thanks to a brilliant try.

A super three-quarter line move of a line-out saw full-back Bryn Cunningham take a long ball from Larkin.

He still had a lot of work to do, but side-stepped inside and his speed took him past the flat-footed Neath defence with Doak easily the extra points.

A revalitised Ulster scored their second try.through Tyrone Howe who burst through two tackles to run in under the posts for Doak again to convert.

Jarvis cut the leeway with a penalty in the 69th minute.

Ulster had Neath pinned in their own '22' in the final 10 minutes and deservedly held out for a hard-fought victory.

Ulster: B Cunningham; J Topping; R Constable, S Stewart, T Howe; A Larkin, N Doak; J Fitzpatrick, P Shields, S Best, M Blair, J Davidson, capt, W Brosnihan, N McMillan, T McWhirter.
Reps: J Cunningham for Stewart (80), N Best for McWhirter (74).

Neath: A Durston; K James, A Bateman, D Tiueti, S Williams; L Jarvis, P Horgan; D Jones, B Williams, A Millward, A Newman, G Llewellyn (capt), H Jenkins, S Tandy, N Bonner-Evans.
Reps: S Connor, S Jones, A Jones for Millward (68), J Storey for Bateman (68), L Bateman, A Mocelutu, A Moore for Morgan (59).

The final



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