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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 December 2006, 21:28 GMT
Ulster 6-6 Leinster
Brian O'Driscoll is about to be tackled by Paul Steinmetz with Paddy Wallace close by
Brian O'Driscoll was involved in some feisty exchanges in the match

Ulster (0) 6
Pens: Humphreys (2)

Leinster (3) 6
Pen: D'Arcy
Drop goal: D'Arcy

Magners League leaders Ulster had to be content with a draw against Irish rivals Leinster in a tough battle at a rain-lashed and windy Ravenhill.

Gordon D'Arcy's 30th-minute drop-goal was the only score in the first half which looked a poor return given Leinster's massive wind advantage.

Two David Humphreys' penalties edged Ulster ahead but D'Arcy's late penalty was enough to earn Leinster a draw.

Leinster's ball retention after the break negated Ulster's wind advantage.

The visitors struggled to make their wind advantage count in the opening period with Andy Dunne's difficulties at fly-half not helping Michael Cheika's side.

Dunne missed a fourth-minute penalty from straight in front of the posts and the opening score did not come until D'Arcy dropped a goal for Leinster in the 30th minute.

By that time, Ulster's Matt McCullough and Leinster prop Fosi Pala-amo had been sin-binned and their exchange of pleasantries was one of several niggly incidents before the interval with Brian O'Driscoll and Neil Best also involved at one stage.

Ulster must have fancied their chances when they trailed only 3-0 at half-time.

However, Leinster came out fired up after the break with their ball retention causing big problems for Ulster.

A D'Arcy break put the Ulster defence under pressure in the 45th minute and Owen Finnigan then knocked on when he was close to the northerners' line.

However, Humphreys' wind-assisted penalty brought the sides level in the 59th minute and after Reggie Corrigan had been penalised for illegal use of a boot in a ruck, the Ulster fly-half was successful again to put the home side 6-3 ahead.

But to their credit, Leinster refused to fold and their close control and pressure forced a penalty which D'Arcy slotted.

By that stage, D'Arcy had become place-kicker after fly-half Dunne had been replaced by Christian Warner.

Leinster, helped by 72nd-minute sin-binning of Ulster skipper, pushed hard for victory in the closing stages but the home side twice held up the southerners to hold on for the draw.

  • Ulster coach Mark McCall:
  • "It was a difficult game because of the conditions.

    "At half-time, we thought we'd got ourselves into a winning position but Leinster played very well in the second half.

    "They kept the ball for long periods and we just couldn't get it at all. It's probably a missed opportunity for us."

  • Leinster centre Gordon D'Arcy:
  • "It was going to be a game of two halves although the wind shifted a little bit towards the end of the first half and made it easier for us to play into the wind.

    "It (the conditions) was as bad as it looked and a draw was probably a fair result.

    "It's a good result and it puts us on the front foot going into the two (Heineken Cup) games against Agen."

    Ulster: B Cunningham; M Bartholomeusz; P Steinmetz, P Wallace, P McKenzie; D Humphreys, I Boss; B Young, R Best, S Best, M McCullough, J Harrison, N Best, k Dawson, R Wilson.
    Replacements: Maggs for Wallace (52), Ferris for Dawson (69).
    Not Used: Shields, J. Fitzpatrick, Barker, Campbell, S. Young

    Sin Bin: McCullough 27, Harrison 72

    Leinster: Fitzgerald, Horgan, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Hickie, Dunne, Whitaker, McCormack, Blamey, Pala'amo, Hogan, O'Kelly, Finnigan, Gleeson, Heaslip.
    Replacements: Warner for Dunne (49), Corrigan for Pala'amo (56), Keogh for Finnigan (69).
    Not Used: Vermaas, Jowitt, Easterby, Kearney.

    Sin Bin: Pala'amo 27

    Att: 12,500

    Referee: Olan Trevor (IRFU)



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