In the festive battle between Connacht & Ulster, Connacht emerged deserving 21-12 winners at the Sportsground. To the fore of this for Connacht was Sean O’Brien, providing thunderous tackles, turnovers and some excellent link play. Darragh Leader gave another assured performance at fullback. Jordi Murphy’s 67th minute try wasn’t enough to help claw Ulster back into the game but he and Nick Timoney provided Ulster with huge performances for the full 80 minutes. Marty Moore started but picked up a knock and was forced to leave the fray in the 48th minute. Greg Jones was introduced to the game early in the second half and showed his potential with a very hard working performance.
The game between Munster & Leinster provided a feisty affair with Munster coming out on top 26-17. It was the performance of Fineen Wycherley that really caught the eye and set a bench mark for the Munster performance with the intensity and purpose he brought to the game. Andrew Conway immediately brushed off a terrible tackle while in the air, to continue his impressive displays. Dan Goggin was solid in the 13 channel until he was replaced in the final quarter by Darren Sweetnam. Leinster never gave up and the centre partnership of Noel Reid & Garry Ringrose produced some excellent moments when they were provided with ball on the front foot. James Tracy bagged himself a try on the 48th minute and was tireless until replaced by Bryan Bryne in the final quarter who continued in the same vein. Rhys Ruddock has to be one of the most consistent players in the country producing yet another hard-working performance. Ross Molony was introduced late in the game as Leinster pushed for the win but had to be content with a losing bonus point.
Willie Ryan and Doncaster Knights will be extremely disappointed to lose 30-22 to Yorkshire Carnegie in front of a huge home crowd. Willie Ryan came on for the final quarter to push for points they deserved.
Joy Neville took charge of the Ireland U20 v Munster A game in Independent Park which showcased some of the next generation of talent that will be on view in the next few months.