It’s an interesting exercise trying to describe foul play that you missed and have only heard second hand reports of. Especially when there is no big screen to get slow-mo replays or even an on hand recording to verify other’s events.
The facts are that Ulster lock Dan Tuohy broke through the line carrying the ball on about halfway; the referee immediately blew his whistle for a foul and sin binned him. Toby Flood was immobile on the pitch for over 10 minutes and was taken by stretcher straight into the pitchside ambulance. From the terrace I could not see him moving at all.
So it certainly had an ugly outcome; but what exactly did happen? Reports from those that claim to have seen it is that there was a swinging arm to Flood’s head. Now taking the risky gamble that referee Tim Wigglesworth was correct in a yellow card what could have happened?
On one extreme is that it was a stationary but prominent elbow that caught Flood in the head; the other is that after Flood had grasped him in the tackle he swung an elbow at his head to break him off. One of those isn’t a penalty; the other, even in these days of yellow cards for manslaughter, is a clear red. So it must have been something in between those two extremes.
Best guess? Dan Tuohy had his arm tight to his chest, Martin Corry style, and rather than taking contact then pushing off, which most refs see as legal, he pushed off prematurely swinging into Flood’s head in the process.
That or he’s a dirty Irish thug who deliberately injures opponents. Probably the accident.
Well that’s 280 words on the injury what about the tries?
It was nil all when Flood came off and Ulster ended the 14 men stretch 3 points up, Tigers had levelled the score after a clumsy/lazy high tackle from former Northampton player Roger Wilson.
It was a cracker of a try. We won’t score too many better this season. A nothing penalty from Ulster on our 22 was tapped quickly by David Mele. He had spotted Tom Court, hobbling after the last ruck, exposed as the last man on the end of the line. Mele to Lamb then Allen inside the 22 before Goneva was freed to round the luckiest Lion since Andy Nicol. Goneva took it up to about half way before Niall Morris was given it sweeping up from full back. He showed to give it to Hamilton then burst straight, his pace taking straight to the line from halfway.
A not too dissimilar move ended with Goneva chucking it at Thompstone’s ankles about ten minutes later.
The second try was the kind of masterful manipulation of a forward pack and a blindside that was reminiscent of Adel Kardooni in his pomp. The maul had been going well, driving Ulster back 15m on the previous occasion before Wigglesworth had blown for an Ulster scrum, and Tigers were now within yards of the line. It had been a back ball so there was a nice large blindside. Wary of another random scrum to Ulster this time Tigers decided to get it moving then release the ball.
Mele was le petit general as he bossed flanker Salvi to burst left and draw the man before seeing of an Ulster challenge to dot down in the corner. C’est magnificent.
After halftime Tigers quickly scored another beaut as Dan Bowden’s cut out pass to Hamilton tore the Irish defence to shreds; a lovely out the back of the hand flick to Anthony Allen, lurking on the wing, finished the move.
Ulster came back into it with some nice attacks. Speedster Paddy Marshall went close after a good bit of broken field play following a Neil Briggs charge down. Jerome Schuster was sin binned for an impossibly thick bit of play on his own goal line. With the ball already slow and going nowhere he piled into the scrum half through the side of the ruck. Now a yellow was harsh given it was the first offence by the entire team that half and the ball was nothing anyway but it was a stupid penalty to give away. Tigers turned the ball over the next phase so it really was for nothing. Ulster used the space from the missing man for Chris Henry to score under the posts.
That meant we got to see Fraser Balmian though, and he impressed shoring up the wobbly scrum and clearing rucks aggressively.
The scrum. Ah, the scrum. Apparently we have solved it. So the internet nerds and the Telegraph twitchers tell me. Well it looks like the Emperor’s New Bollocks to me. I counted 6 free kicks and 3 penalties, with one highly suspicious squirt out of a scrum that looked suspiciously like it came out the tunnel. Several collapses and re-starts were present and correct but what scrums we did get seemed de-powered and unstable with far more lateral movement than is normal.
Now we had duff games under last year’s rules too so I’m not poo-pooing the new rules just yet, but Richard Cockerill’s allegations of swapping one mess for another seems on the money after that display.
Back to the game and there was one final try as Tigers pushed for the imaginary bonus point. Always good to train the mind as well as the body. Perry Humphreys, last year’s title winning Under 18s full back, was fed a superb inside ball by Ryan Lamb and gained some good ground. He recycled and the ball went left. A huge cut out pass from Lamb found Waldrom on the charge who went close to the line, off loading for De Chaves who was driven over by Briggs to score in the corner. Had there been a TMO I’m sure he would have been consulted but there wasn’t so we got a try rather than a wait.
Lamb’s conversion hit the post to round out the score at 30-10.