STUART MCLOSKEY FINISHED last season like a steam train and the early signs are that 2015/16 will see him impress even further.
McCloskey was man of the match for Ulster. Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO
Neil Doak’s Ulster opened the Guinness Pro12 season with a 28-6 win over a disappointing Ospreys side at Kingspan Stadium last night, with McCloskey’s brutish try one of the clear highlights.
The score was brilliantly started by Andrew Trimble – who responded to being left out of Ireland’s World Cup squad with a strong showing – as the wing burst forward on the counter after fielding an Ospreys kick.
Having been fed by Nick Williams and out-half Peter Nelson, McCloskey did the rest as he showed his freakish strength. The 6ft 3ins centre hammered Jonathan Spratt into the ground with a big left-hand fend, before carrying Dan Evans and Tom Grabham over the line.
Interestingly, McCloskey was place-kicking for Ulster last night. Although he looked slightly uncomfortable from the tee, he did convert one of his team’s four tries and added two penalties from two attempts.
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Number eight Williams had a key role in the province’s first, offloading out of the tackle to allow flanker Willie Faloon to break. From there, Paul Marshall found Ireland international hooker Rob Herring for the score.
After the forward pack produced a muscular try for prop Wiehahn Herbst, Ulster wrapped up a pleasing bonus-point win with a spectacular score on kick return.
Louis Ludik launched the counter, before Craig Gilroy and replacement centre Sam Arnold combined in the middle of the pitch. The scoring pass came from pacy sub hooker John Andrew, with Ireland international centre Luke Marshall the man to dot down.
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